Belliare stays perfect, defeats Buckeye Local despite five turnovers

NICE HANDS — Buckeye Local’s Jacob Moffo catches the ball over Bellaire’s A.J. McCarthy on Saturday. (Photo by Paul Krajnyak)

BELLAIRE — For those that had an idea Bellaire would look past Buckeye Local Saturday afternoon, think again.

The Big Reds improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2006, mainly due to an early outburst that led to a 27-point lead less than eight minutes into the contest. The end result was a 41-6 triumph over the visiting Panthers (0-5) at cloud-covered Nelson Field.

“I just told the kids in the locker room that this is great for the community, all the support staff and our fans and parents, but it comes down to these kids making a commitment ever since I got the job to work hard in the weight room,” Bellaire head coach Mark Spigarelli said. “It pays off in practice and games. The last two weeks we have had good practices, and it has shown in the games.

“We’ve still got a tough stretch to go in these final five games. Beaver (Local) is no slouch. They are big, physical and well-coached, so we’ll have to be ready to go on the road Friday.”

Bellaire came out impressively for the second straight week. After blitzing John Marshall a week ago, the Big Reds used their potent ground game and an opportunistic defense in securing the early lead.

“It was kind of like a continuation of last week. We were almost unstoppable on offense and defense,” Spigarelli noted said of the 39-7 whipping of the Monarchs, who entered as the top-rated ‘Big School’ in West Virginia.

After forcing Buckeye Local to punt following its opening drive, Bellaire went to work. Cole Porter capped a three-play, 46-yard drive with a 33-yard burst off the right side and down the far sidelines. The PAT failed, and it was 6-0 with 9:28 left on the clock.

The Big Reds defense got into the scoring act on the next two possessions.

On third-and-8 from the Buckeye Local 42, quarterback Seth Richardson’s pass was tipped by Bellaire defensive end Cole LaRoche. The ball sailed into the air where LaRoche snatched it and rambled 28 yards for a touchdown. He then put his kicking shoe on to boot the PAT for a 13-0 reading.

Deja vu struck, unfortunately, for the Panthers. Once again facing a third-down situation, Richardson had this pass picked off by Porter, and the athletic junior returned it down the far sidelines for a 38-yard scoring play. LaRoche made it 20-0.

Griffen Heatherington, Bellaire’s other defensive end, partially blocked a Panthers punt when their next series stalled. LaRoche recovered at the Buckeye Local 24. Quarterback Bobby Roth was sacked for a 9-yard loss prior to finding LaRoche for 19 at the 14. Porter went off the right side again untouched on the ensuing play as the margin ballooned to 27-0, with LaRoche’s third of four PATs.

“Bellaire’s a really fine football team, and they showed that against John Marshall last week,” Buckeye Local second-year head coach Roger Herbert said. “They kind of shell-shocked us off the start, but I’m really proud of the effort my kids put forth. I don’t know if the score is indicative of what really happened today.

“Our offense didn’t get going real well, but I thought our defense banged and gritted with them. I think we probably had four or five turnovers, so we have guys that are really playing well. I thought our freshman (Hunter) Darrah did a great job. He’s only 15 years old and will only get better. We had a lot of guys play well.”

Bellaire was its own worst enemy in the second and third quarters with fumbles and penalties. All told, the Big Reds fumbled the ball an alarming nine times, losing five. They also committed eight penalties for 72 yards, with two wiping out potential touchdowns.

“We started making mistakes and turning the ball over in the second quarter. I told the kids that I can take turning the ball over. I can take missing blocks, but when we start yelling and screaming at each other, that’s not good,” Spigarelli said. “I told them that at halftime, and I just told them again. If they want to be successful in life, and even now for the Big Reds, they’ve got to be able to overcome that stuff.

“Hats off to Buckeye Local and coach Herbert. They could’ve easily quit, but they didn’t. They kept after their gameplan and did a super job. They are still improving, also.

Buckeye Local got on the scoreboard after Darrah stripped the ball from Roth, and Gage Kornetti recovered at the Bellaire 9. Three plays later, Richardson found Brian Palmer on a slant from the left for the score. The two-point pass failed, leaving it 27-6 at the half.

Roth snuck in from a yard out on the second play of the fourth quarter to up the count to 34-6 following a LaRoche kick.

Heatherington, who charted six solo tackles, four quarterback sacks and five stops behind the line of scrimmage, recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. Four plays later, Kaleb Pitchford took a pitch left from the 12-yard line and muscled his way over a Buckeye Local player at the goalline. Trace Sechrest kicked the PAT.

“Griff has finely taken coaching and we let him loose,” Spigarelli said. “He’s got a lot of speed but not a lot of size. He’s probably only 130 pounds, but he comes really hard. He’s relentless and played really well today.”

Porter finished with a quiet 194 yards on 22 carries. He had four runs of at least 20 yards and had a 73-yard punt return negated by a yellow flag.

Buckeye Local managed just 32 yards of total offense. In addition to Kornetti, also recovering fumbles were Zac Cesario, Jacob Still, Jack Reese and Andrew Toto.

Bellaire 41, Buckeye Local 6

Buckeye Local 0 6 0 0 — 6

Bellaire 27 0 0 14 — 41

B: Porter 33 run (kick failed)

B: LaRoche 28 INT return (LaRoche kick)

B: Porter 38 INT return (LaRoche kick)

B: Porter 14 run (LaRoche kick)

BL: Palmer 9 pass from Richardson (pass failed)

B: Roth 1 run (LaRoche kick)

B: Pitchford 12 run (T. Sechrest kick)

RUSHING: Buckeye Local 24-(-38) (Smith 3-2, Palmer 2-0, T. Herbert 1-(-3), team 1-(-5), Richardson 15-(-30); Bellaire 47-213-4 (Porter 22-194-2, Pitchford 6-55-1, Mamie 1-2, Cash 1-0, Albaugh 1-(-2), Beckett 2-(3), team 1-(-10), Roth 13-(-23).

PASSING: Buckeye Local 10-25-67-1-2 (Richardson 10-24-67-1-2, L. Herbert 0-1); Bellaire 4-6-53 (all by Roth).

RECEIVING: Buckeye Local 10-67-1 (Palmer 5-29-1, Moffo 3-26, H. Darrah 1-10, Zanes 1-2); Bellaire 4-53 (McCarthy 3-34), LaRoche 1-19).

FIRST DOWNS: Buckeye Local 4, Bellaire 13

FUMBLES: Buckeye Local 3-3, Bellaire 9-5

PENALTIES: Buckeye Local 5-59, Bellaire 8-72