LONDON – Bellefontaine’s football team has now won more playoff games in a season than any team in school history.
The Chieftains on Friday held off a scrappy Granville team 29-21 in a Division III region 11 semifinal at London High School.
With its third win this postseason, Bellefontaine also tied a program record for victories in a season as it improves to 11-2 and advances to face Columbus Bishop Watterson (12-1) in a regional final game next Friday at a site to be determined.
“This means everything to our program and our community,” said BHS senior wide receiver Riley Neer, who had another monster performance with 11 catches for 204 yards and two touchdowns. “Our community has given us unbelievable support. Just look at the crowd we had tonight. This is just an amazing thing to be part of.”
Bellefontaine led 21-15 at halftime and extended its lead to 29-15 in the third quarter.
Granville scored a touchdown with 8:18 remaining in the game, but failed on the two-point conversion attempt, leaving the Chiefs up 29-21.
The Chiefs lost a pair of fumbles in the final six minutes, including one that Granville recovered in its end zone with 1:40 to play, to provide some late-game suspense.
But Bellefontaine’s defense came up with a big stop on the Blue Aces’ ensuing possession, forcing an incompletion on a fourth-and-six play at Granville’s 36-yard line with 1:05 left on the clock.
The Chiefs ran out the clock from there to seal the historic victory.
“I am so happy for our players, our coaching staff and our community,” said Bellefontaine head coach Jason Brown.
“We persevered and showed a lot of grit and toughness tonight. We didn’t play our best complimentary football, but we were resilient.
“Football emulates life sometimes. It’s about responding in a positive way when negative things happen to you. We had some times tonight that we had to just play the next play and put the negativity behind us.”
On a night when both offenses were moving up and down the field, the Chiefs were able to come up with three turnovers on defense to get key stops.
“Give Bellefontaine credit,” said Granville head coach Wesley Schroeder. “They have the best set of skill players we’ve seen this year and they made a few more plays than we did. They have big-time players all over the field.”
Bellefontaine’s offense was impressive with its balance. The Chiefs finished with 239 rushing yards and 215 passing yards for a total output of 454 yards.
Granville (12-1) did most of its damage through the air, passing for 348 of its 432 yards.
Senior running back Chris Fogan carried the rushing load for the Chiefs, grinding out 196 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.
BHS quarterback Tavien St. Clair was 13 of 22 passing for 215 yards and a pair of TDs.
For more coverage of Friday’s win, see Monday’s edition of the Examiner.