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GAME OF THE WEEK: Chieftains push Braves to the brink

SPRINGFIELD — Three yards. That is all that separated Bellefontaine from pulling off a major upset here Friday night.

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Bellefontaine’s Jordan Baughman makes a 22-yard touchdown catch as time expires in regulation against Springfield Shawnee on Friday. (EXAMINER PHOTO | TONY BARRETT)

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Jake Kennedy fired a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Baughman on the final play of regulation to pull the visiting Chiefs to within one point of unbeaten Springfield Shawnee.

Bellefontaine elected to go for the win by going for a two-point conversion instead of an extra-point kick. A Chieftain pass on the attempt fell incomplete in the corner of the end zone as the Braves held on for a 34-33 victory.

“I feel like we are becoming the football team we want to be,” said BHS head coach Toby Smith. “We just have to clean up some of our mistakes and find a way to get more stops, so we can win games like this.”

Shawnee rolled up 608 yards of offense. Instead of trying to compete with the Braves in overtime, Smith felt like the best chance for his team to win was to go for two points after Baughman’s touchdown catch with no time remaining on the clock.

“We’ve been asking our kids to compete, and they did that tonight,” said Smith. “I felt like they deserved the opportunity to go for the win right there. I would make the same choice if I had to do it over.”

Shawnee (8-0) came into the game as the 14th-ranked squad in the state in Division III, but got everything it could handle from the Chiefs.

“Coach Smith and his staff had a great game plan,” said Shawnee head coach Rick Meeks. “Obviously, you can see the fight and attitude changing in that program. Bellefontaine should be very proud of what they did tonight. It is too bad that somebody had to lose.”

On a night of many terrific individual efforts, Shawnee’s Jalen Nelson was the star of the show. He juked and sprinted his way to 300 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 28 carries.

“Jalen is a stud,” said Meeks. “He is one of the best athletes we’ve had since I’ve been here. Bellefontaine had a good defensive game plan and there were times Jalen just made things happen on his own.”

On Bellefontaine’s side, Kennedy did everything he could do to put his team in a position to win. He threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns and also had a 13-yard TD run.

The first big play from Kennedy came in the first quarter after the Chiefs fell down 14-0 on a pair of early 2-yard TD runs by Nelson.

Facing a third-and-17, Kennnedy tossed a 44-yard connection to Daniel Boy that put the Chiefs on the Shawnee 16-yard line.

That play seemed to energize Bellefontaine, which scored five plays later on a 1-yard TD burst by Jordan Baughman. Zach Schmid’s extra-point kick made the score 14-7 at the 4:11 mark of the opening quarter.

Nelson countered with a 29-yard TD dash that gave the Braves a 20-7 advantage with 26 seconds remaining in the first period.

A long kick return by Aaron Rutherford then set Bellefontaine up with good field position. The Chiefs capitalized with a scoring drive that was capped by a 14-yard pass from Kennedy to freshman Hayden Nease. Schmid made his second extra-point attempt, making the score 20-14 with 10:45 left until halftime.

The back-and-forth battle continued as the Braves marched down the field for another touchdown. This time, Nelson strolled into the end zone from 15 yards out. His fourth TD of the first half put Shawnee out to a 27-14 lead.

Bellefontaine then came up with a big defensive play in the closing moments of the second quarter to set up a score.

With the Braves driving deep into Bellefontaine territory, Drake Roebuck stripped the ball from a Shawnee ball carrier and returned it to the Chiefs’ 35-yard line.

Kennedy hit three straight passes to get the Chiefs down to the Shawnee 10-yard line. After spiking the ball to stop the clock, he found Dorion Hughes for a 10-yard TD connection with only 21 seconds left until the break.

That TD cut the Braves’ lead to seven (27-20) entering halftime.

Bellefontaine continued its comeback in the third quarter. On the first offensive series of the second half, the Chiefs drove 69 yards for a TD to tie the score at 27-27. Kennedy found the end zone on a 13-yard keeper and Schmid followed with the extra-point kick.

Nelson put the Braves back in front with 3:23 remaining in the third quarter on a 17-yard TD run that made the score 34-27.

The score stayed that way deep into the fourth quarter. The Chiefs had a prime opportunity to close the gap by moving the ball inside the Braves’ 10-yard line with six minutes left to play.

The Chiefs had a first-and-goal at the Shawnee 7-yard line, but were unable to get the ball into the end zone and turned it over on downs.

Bellefontaine dug in defensively, though, to earn another chance.

The Chieftain defense forced a Shawnee punt and Bellefontaine got the ball back on its own 21-yard line with 2:52 remaining.

The Chiefs only had one timeout left, but were able to put together a methodical drive that moved the ball tp the Shawnee 21-yard line with 16 ticks left on the clock.

Two straight incomplete passes chewed up 14 seconds, leaving Bellefontaine with one final crack at the end zone.

Kennedy lofted a perfectly thrown ball to Baughman down the middle of the field. Baughman gathered the ball in at the back of the end zone as time expired for an improbable touchdown.

However, the Chiefs’ hopes for a dramatic victory were dashed by the failed two-point conversion attempt.

Bellefontaine falls to 3-5 overall and 0-3 in the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail division. The Chiefs close out the season with home games against Tecumseh and Stebbins.

“Our kids have to understand how well they did tonight and realize they only have two games left to take advantage of their progress,” said Smith. “They also have to understand that the program really needs them right now.”

Baughman rushed for a hard-earned 76 yards on 20 carries for the Chiefs. He also made four catches for 69 yards.

Boy led the Chieftain receivers with 121 yards on seven catches. Nease made three grabs for 40 yards and A.J. Gorham had 23 yards on four catches.

Derek Yoesting contributed a fumble recovery and Boy and Andrell Roberts each had an interception to spark the Chieftain defense.

CHIEFS @ BRAVES

Bellefontaine 7 13 7 6 – 33

Spfd. Shawnee 20 7 7 0 - 34

TEAM STATISTICS  BFN • SS

First downs 19 • 24


Total net yards 372 • 608


Rushes/yards 30/109 • 49/432

Passing 263 • 176

Comp-att-int 19-47-1 • 10-17-2

Punts/avg 5/40.4 • 2/36.5

Fumbles-lost 0-0 • 2-2

Penalties-yards 4-30 • 4-40

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