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Bellevue Keeps Paddle, Routs Dayton 61-0

Considering it was the 135th time they have played, there have likely been many classic games in the rivalry's history between Bellevue and Dayton. This year's Battle for the Paddle, however, might only be remembered later for its lopsided score as the Tigers walloped the Greendevils, 61-0.

It was a perfect night for football and the crowd was sizable at Bellevue's stadium with fans packed into the steep bleachers built along the hillside. The dueling cheerleader squads made for a weird cacophony of football sounds and team spirit, and the nearby highway added a kind of gray noise layer to it all. Even with the score out of hand, it was a pleasant evening to hang out in the stands from up high and watch the action meander around the field.

For Bellevue it was an important game for their potential playoff seeding and for Dayton, they were simply looking for a better showing than the previous week when they lost 62-0 to Beechwood. They improved on that margin by a single point.

At first, it didn't look all bad for the Devils as the Tigers fumbled a punt on the team's first possession. Dayton took over on the 18 yard line, but failed on fourth down and turned it back around. They still hung in there early on and got the ball back inside their own ten, but then they caught a bad case of fumble-itis, coughing it up four times in the first quarter, the first of which was returned for an easy defensive touchdown by Cameron Chase.

Every time Dayton got something going, even remotely, they promptly fumbled it back to Bellevue. When Zach Barrett came untouched around the edge on a blitz and blindsided Dayton quarterback Preston Nickel, causing him to fumble, Alec Hazerus scooped up the ball and became the all-time Kentucky leader in fumble recoveries with 17 in his career.

Hazerus is perhaps the smallest interior defensive lineman a person may come across (5'5'', 135 pounds), but the kid is as scrappy as they come. He makes tackles among the big guys regularly, he takes hits going across the middle on offense and he returns kicks well. In the game he scored on a touchdown.

Zach Barrett caught a 53-yard touchdown pass where he simply leaped up and pulled down a deep pass and ran it in past the smaller defender. Because of his size and speed, Barrett was easily the most versatile athlete on the field as he was a terror as an edge rusher and a major mismatch when he lined up outside.

Later in the half, Chase caught a short touchdown pass that put the Tigers up 33-0 and solidified the blowout. The scoring wasn't quite finished before the half, however, because Barrett pulled in an 11-yard score that made the score 40-0 at the half.

The mercy rule went into effect in the second half where the clock ran continuously, but that did not keep the Tigers from pouring it on just a little more before everyone went home. First, it was Austin Woodyard scoring on a 21-yard pass. Then it was a safety. Next, it was Hazerus on a seven-yard touchdown run, and lastly it was Tyler Thompson catching a 27-yard touchdown catch. All total, 61 points in the game.

After the game was over the seniors were lauded by their fans near the bleachers, singing in chorus the school fight song and hoisting players on their shoulders. Next, they were presented with the coveted paddle that serves as the game's trophy. It will remain with Bellevue for the seventh straight season.

This was the final regular season game for Bellevue. Dayton hosts Carroll County for its finale next week.

Story & photos by Bryan Burke, associate editor

NORTHERN KENTUCKY SCORES VIA NKYSports.com

Scott 16, Conner 15

(Cincinnati) Elder 49, Highlands 35

Newport 51, Lloyd 19

Campbell Co. 28, Boone Co. 14

Beechwood 41, Ludlow 7

Covington Catholic 38, Holmes 0

Simon Kenton 43, Bullitt Central 7

Dixie Heights 35, Ryle 24

Pendleton County 28, Bishop Brossart 27

Cooper 54, Grant Co. 14