Beechwood Overpowers Bellevue, 41-18
On a cold and stormy night, Beechwood rolled past Bellevue, 41-18, in the first district game for both teams. Beechwood has now won five straight and is tied for the Class 1A District 3 lead with Ludlow with a win apiece.
The game was even more of a blowout than the final score indicates with Beechwood scoring the game's first five touchdowns and owning a 34-0 lead at halftime. Perhaps the biggest story of the game was that senior running back Joe Studer was forced from the action with a leg injury and did not return. He was later seen on crutches, though head coach Noel Rash said after the game that it is not a major injury. Studer's replacement Ethan Stringer filled in nicely with three touchdown carries on the game.
The rain and slick conditions bothered both teams as there were many fumbles, drops and errant passes that likely resulted from weather. It seemed that Beechwood was the better-suited team for the wetness, but head coach Noel Rash was not satisfied with his team's effort despite the big win.
“I'm really disappointed with how we dealt with Mother Nature tonight,” Coach Rash said. “We were fine, I was just upset at how we dealt with the weather and finishing out plays. We got comfortable and you don't ever want to get comfortable in this game because that is how you get hurt and that's how you let teams come back on you.”
Beechwood pounded the run with Stringer and company behind a strong offensive line, gaining handfuls of yards on each carry. Quarterback Kyle Fieger rarely needed to throw, which was probably for the best in such harsh weather conditions.
He did have one notable pass, though, when in the first quarter he rolled to his right and released the ball as soon as he was hit, which found its way to tight end Jonathan Stokes who juked two defenders and sprinted into the end zone for a 33 yard touchdown.
Bellevue, on the other hand, had too many plays for a loss, couldn't find the running game until it was too late and routinely hurt themselves with multiple personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. In fact both teams were guilty of these types of infractions and there was a lot of chirping going on between teams.
“That's not who we're ever going to be and (his players) are going to pay for that tomorrow,” Rash said. “And if tomorrow doesn't work running it out of them, then we're going to start taking playing time away from guys, because that is what's going to come back to cost us when it matters most. Discipline is at the core of what we do.”
Beechwood set themselves up nicely, however, with quality returns by Studer before he was hurt. Twice in the first quarter, his big returns put the ball deep into Bellevue territory and each time Beechwood capped the short drives off with touchdowns.
The highlight of the game was when defensive lineman Justin Overstreet intercepted a screen pass and returned it 57 yards to give Beechwood a 28-0 lead in the first quarter. The home crowd chanted the name of Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt who often intercepts short passes and scores touchdowns in the same manner. From that point on, however, it appeared Beechwood took their foot off of the gas pedal, and cruised to the win.
As a result, Bellevue gained some confidence after halftime with many fullback handoffs against primarily Beechwood second-string defenders and put up a three touchdowns against them, outscoring Beechwood 18-6 in the second half. The game was hardly in question, though, especially after Stringer stiff-armed a defender and broke it 58 yards to the house to make the game 41-12. The few people remaining began to file out at that point and probably missed Bellevue's last score in the game's waning moments.
The win puts Beechwood (5-2) in a comfortable position for the postseason as they are 1-0 in the district with three road games in a row to conclude the season: at Dayton (district game), at Ludlow (district game) and at Newport Central Catholic. For Bellevue (4-4), their picture is more complicated as they now have must-wins against Ludlow (district) at home next week, and Dayton (district) at home the week after.
Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor
Other scores from around Northern Kentucky:
Ryle 21, Covington Catholic 14
Holmes 12, Harrison Co. 6
Scott 43, Grant Co. 0
Conner 34, Holy Cross 8
Ludlow 27, Dayton 22 (Thursday)
Dixie Heights 43, Campbell Co. 0
Simon Kenton 27, Boone Co. 21
South Oldham 27, Cooper 21
Walton-Verona 68, Gallatin Co. 7