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Bellaire Outlasts UL, 14-0

Photo by Seth Staskey Union Local running back Hayden McCrate is wrapped up by Bellaire’s Ray Ray Pettigrew during the first half of Friday’s game in Morristown.

MORRISTOWN — Bellaire’s defense has been very opportunistic and stingy all season.

Friday night against Union Local was no different.

The Big Reds forced three turnovers, including a 42-yard pick six less than two minutes into the game by junior Ray Ray Pettigrew, and pitched its second shutout of the season, fending off a game Jets outfit, 14-0.

“I am really proud of my guys because they kept punching away and playing the next play,” Bellaire head coach Mark Spigarelli said. “The turnovers (we forced) were huge. Our guys got punched in the mouth and that’s a credit to Union Local, but we hung tough and our leadership was really good.”

The Big Reds needed that type of defensive performance because the offense was bottled up for the most part by the Jets. Bellaire, which had trouble getting its hands on the ball in the first half after the aforementioned defensive touchdown, only ran 14 plays in the opening 24 minutes.

“This one stings,” UL head coach Bernie Thompson said. “We were right there and had some chances. I thought our kids played extremely well and hard. The film is going to hurt because we hurt ourselves. We couldn’t capitalize on opportunities (offensively) because our defense played outstanding.”

The Big Reds had basically no passing game. Junior quarterback Jake Heatherington completed just 1 of 7 passes for 17 yards. However, the ground game, which has been steady for Bellaire allowed the Big Reds to move the ball. Junior Brayden Roth finished with 24 totes for 122 yards.

Colt Sechrest, who left the game with an injury in the latter portion of the fourth quarter, carried just five times for 47 yards, but he was causing all sorts of problems on the defensive side from his linebacker post.

“Union Local had a great game plan after getting drilled by St. Clairsville last week,” Spigarelli said.

“They basically came out in an entirely different defense. They were blitzing guys almost every play, so we had to make some major adjustments to what they were giving us and they did a nice job of milking the clock offensively, so congrats to Coach Thompson on a great game plan.”

The Jets’ best scoring opportunity came late in the first half after the Big Reds fumbled it away.

“We couldn’t overcome some of our own mistakes (offensively),” Thompson said. “There were times when we moved the ball, so that wasn’t the issue. But, we got in the red zone multiple times and couldn’t get in the end zone. The name of the game, on offense, is to score points, so we’ll go back to the drawing board and get ready for next week.”

Union Local moved into the red zone and had a second down at the 11, but Carter Blake’s pass was deflected into the waiting arms of junior Jakob Dowling for Bellaire’s second interception of the game.

In the second half, the Jets got as close as the 25 yard line in the third quarter, but the drive stalled on downs.

Bellaire was finally able to ice the game away by capitalizing on a Jets’ fumble. Working exclusively on the ground, Bellaire went 60 yards in 10 plays before Heatherington plunged into the end zone from a yard out. Lucas Littell’s second PAT of the game made it 14-0.

“We had some opportunities (to score), but we have to be a little bit tougher in the red zone,” Spigarelli said. “We need to finish drives with touchdowns when we have the chances.”

The Jets outgained the Big Reds, 269-213. Junior tailback Hayden McCrate was solid for the Jets, rushing 21 times for 89 yards. Blake was 10 of 20 for 140 yards passing. Freshman Dre Saunders had an impressive showing with three receptions for 69 yards.

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