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For First Time Since 2007, Dayton Beats Bellevue on Football Field

One night after honoring the 50th anniversary of their 1966 state championship team, Dayton High School football knocked off arch-rival Bellevue by a score of 14-13 in a thriller at Davis Field in Dayton.

Despite the rivalry’s deep roots and tradition—this was the 138th meeting between the two, marking the longest-running rivalry in Kentucky high school football—the games have rarely been competitive of late.

The last time Dayton beat Bellevue was October 2007, when Dayton’s current group of seniors had just started third grade. “Stronger” by Kanye West was atop the Billboard charts for one week, interrupting a long run by "Crank That (Soulja Boy)".

“This has been a long time coming. Not only have we lost lately; we’ve gotten our tails kicked,” said Dayton head coach Chad Montgomery. “We have nine seniors, and they hadn’t even scored on these guys in their high school careers.”

The teams’ prior six meetings, Dayton had been outscored 253-14, including by a 72-0 tally in two meetings last year.

That all changed on Saturday night.

Before a series of lightning strikes forced a postponement on Friday, Bellevue senior Adam Hazares put the first points on the board when he broke free for a 41-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter.

Dayton answered with 4 minutes left in the quarter when junior Xavier Hundemer scampered 21 yards for a score. The Green Devils successfully attempted a two-point conversion, taking an 8-7 lead.

When the action resumed Saturday night at Davis Field, the score remained stagnant for the final seven minutes of the first half, and the first 10 of the second.

Dayton moved the ball well in the third quarter, but a bevy of penalties kept the Green Devils from breaking into the end zone. For the game, Dayton racked up 11 penalties, accounting for 85 yards—including 40 in the quarter. Despite the best efforts of Hundemer to compensate, Dayton’s long drive stalled inside the red zone on fourth down, with a minute left in the quarter.

But after the turnover on downs, Bellevue fumbled, and Dayton’s Jesse Wildeboer pounced on the loose football for a touchdown. After a failed two-point try, Dayton clung to a 14-7 lead.

Bellevue struggled to move the ball in the final quarter, as they did for most of the night. The Green Devils’ tackling was excellent, rarely allowing Bellevue ball carriers to gain extra yards after contact. Dayton held Bellevue to 158 total yards for the game, and outrushed the Tigers 214-114.

With three minutes remaining and possession of the ball, it looked like Dayton might be able to run out the clock for a victory. But on second down, the Green Devils fumbled at their own 30-yard line. It was the team’s first and only turnover of the night, but it proved to be a costly one.

Two plays later, Bellevue senior Tucker Thomas scored from 17 yards out on a quarterback keeper. Bellevue missed the extra point, meaning they’d have to stop Dayton’s ground game one more time for a chance at keeping their eight-game rivalry win streak alive.

“Well, folks, this is the game we were all hoping for,” called Dayton’s PA announcer.

Armed with two timeouts, The Tigers’ defense forced the Green Devils to punt, giving the offense one last chance with 1:37 left in the game.

On the very next play, however, Dayton senior defensive back Trevor Simpson picked off a pass deep downfield for his second interception of the game. A few quarterback kneels later, and pandemonium ensued in Dayton.

Fans stormed the field and Coach Montgomery gave an impassioned speech to his players with fans crowded around. Montgomery was the recipient of an ice-cold water cooler bath mid-postgame interview.

“Tonight was the best we’ve tackled in the six years I’ve been here. Blown coverages were our biggest problem last week against Brossart, and we didn’t do that tonight,” said Montgomery. “Some things went wrong tonight, but our seniors give us so much leadership. Our guys are resilient.”

Hundemer was a force on the ground, rushing 26 times for 144 yards and touchdown. In addition to two interceptions, Simpson chipped in 46 rushing yards for the Green Devils. Despite a relatively close first down battle, Dayton kept possession for more than two-thirds of the game and forced four turnovers.

With the win, Dayton moves to 1-1 on the season. With the loss, Bellevue drops to 0-2. Dayton will travel to play Pendleton County next week, and Bellevue will take on Bishop Brossart in Alexandria.

The two storied rivals will play for the 139th time on October 14 in Bellevue.

Other scores from Saturday's games (most of which were postponed Friday due to weather):

Dixie Heights 34, Scott 7. The Colonels had a big lead early when this game was postponed on Friday, and the Eagles never made it close. Dixie (1-0) hosts Milford (OH) next week, while Scott (0-2) welcomes Newport to Taylor Mill.

Holmes 47, Paris 19. The Bulldogs bounced back from their blowout loss last week with a blowout win of their own. Holmes (1-1) travels to Walton-Verona (0-2) next week.

Holy Cross 44, Walton-Verona 0. The Indians are on a roll to open the 2016 campaign, outscoring both their opponents by a combined 86-7. Holy Cross (2-0) travels to Taft (OH) next week.

Written by Alex Valentine, RCN contributor