Defense collects three interceptions to key 22-13 win
Bellefontaine’s Grant Smith extends the ball over the goal line for a touchdown Friday against Jonathan Alder. (EXAMINER PHOTO | TONY BARRETT)
The inclement weather Friday could not derail Bellefontaine’s quest for a third straight league championship.
Bellefontaine picked off three Jonathan Alder passes in the first half and led 12-0 at the intermission before having to fight off the Pioneers in the second half for a 22-13 victory in a Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail division football game.
It was the sixth straight win for the Chiefs, who are now 6-2 overall and 3-0 in the league.
Bellefontaine has a one-game lead in the division with one game remaining. A victory over Shawnee next Friday will wrap up the outright championship.
“It is a testament to the hard work these kids and the coaches have put in,” said Bellefontaine head coach Toby Smith. “I am proud of what the program has been able to accomplish.”
Two third-quarter touchdowns gave the Pioneers a 13-12 lead, but Bellefontaine answered with 10 straight points to put the game away.
“We have gotten so much better as the season has progressed,” said Smith. “We looked at adversity right in the face and decided ‘no, not tonight, not on our home field.’”
Bellefontaine’s defense was stellar once again, coming up with the three first-half turnovers and then tightening up in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory.
“Our defense has been playing great all season,” said Smith. “People are going to see that they scored a couple of touchdowns, but that was still a great defensive effort. Jonathan Alder is a good football team.”
Offensively, the Chiefs continue to evolve into a balanced attack. Junior quarterback Grant Smith was 6-10 passing for 106 yards and two touchdowns. All six of the completions went to senior Jack Clement.
“Our offense continues to plug away and continues to get better,” said Smith.
A steady rain fell throughout homecoming night at AcuSport Stadium.
It didn’t seem to bother the Chiefs as they used a 21-yard Smith to Clement touchdown pass and a Smith 1-yard TD run in the second quarter for a 12-0 advantage.
Clement, Isaac Newman and Brandon Hayes each picked off a pass for Bellefontaine in the first half to keep Alder off the scoreboard.
The Pioneers (5-3, 1-1) clawed back in the second half, though, scoring on their first two offensive possessions of the second half to move in front 13-12.
Garret Proxmire ripped off a 46-yard touchdown run at the 8:36 mark of the third quarter to make the score 12-6.
After forcing a punt on Bellefontaine’s ensuing possession, Jonathan Alder strung together a 12-play, 67-yard drive that was capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass from J.T. Keith to Crew Wheeler. The extra-point kick by Jackson Welsch put the Pioneers up by a point with 2:13 remaining in the third period.
“For as bad as we played in the first half, I was proud of our kids for fighting back in the second half,” said Jonathan Alder head coach Brett Glass. “We just fell a few plays short. Bellefontaine was better than us tonight.”
Bellefontaine quickly answered to take the lead back.
Clement returned the ensuing kick to the Chieftain 45-yard line.
The Chiefs then put together an eight-play march that was finished off by a 29-yard Derek Robb field goal. That pushed BHS ahead 15-13 with 10:18 left in the game.
Bellefontaine’s defense came up with a big play on Jonathan Alder’s next series, stopping the Pioneers on a 4th-and-3 play at the JA 44-yard line.
The Chiefs took advantage of the good field position, using six plays to find the end zone.
Smith hit Clement for a 30-yard TD and Robb added the extra point to make the score 22-13 with five minutes left.
The Pioneers drove deep into Bellefontaine territory on their next possession, but got backed up into a 4th-and-21. They attempted a 52-yard field goal, but it fell short with 2:31 left.
“We were in a tough position with a fourth and really long, so we thought we would try to cut it to one score,” said Glass. “Our kicker has made some from around that distance before, but the conditions were tough tonight.”
On the night, Bellefontaine rushed for 161 yards on 42 carries.
Smith had 68 yards on 21 rushes and Garrett Gross tallied 68 rushing yards on 16 carries.
The Pioneers finished with 340 yards of offense, rushing for 201 on 36 attempts and passing for 139.
Proxmire had 172 rushing yards on 28 carries.
The Chiefs host Shawnee on Friday in their final CBC Kenton Trail division game of the season.
PIONEERS @ CHIEFS
Jonathan Alder 0 • 0 • 13 • 0 – 13
Bellefontaine 0 • 12 • 0 • 10 – 22
TEAM STATISTICS JA • BFN
First downs 16 • 13
Total net yards 340 • 267
Rushes/yards 36/201 • 42/161
Passing 139 • 106
Comp-att-int 13-23-3 • 6-10-0
Punts/avg 1/25 • 4/30.5
Fumbles-lost 1-0 • 1-1
Penalties-yards 3-20 • 3-27
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