BELLBROOK — With 72 ticks of the clock left to play in Friday night’s game between visiting Fairborn and the host Bellbrook Golden Eagles, the Skyhawks recovered a fumble to stop a potentially game-clinching Bellbrook drive, and they still had a chance at rallying to a come-from-behind win.
But with 36.2 seconds to go, Bellbrook’s defense almost tackled Skyhawks quarterback Wesley Watts in the end zone. A Fairborn lineman had to hold a Golden Eagle tackler to prevent the sack, and he was flagged for the infraction in the end zone, to ultimately give the host Golden Eagles (1-1) a tough 12-6 win, Sept. 1 at Bellbrook High.
“Our defense had an outstanding effort again tonight. They’ve put two solid efforts together in a row now,” Bellbrook coach Jeffrey Jenkins. “Offensively, even though the score didn’t show it, we put some nice drives together and ate up a lot of clock. I’m not happy about the turnovers we had at critical points in the game, but it’s a hard-fought win.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Fairborn, in the players and the coaches they have over there. To get a win over a Division-II school, that’s good for our program.”
Bellbrook unofficially gained 210 yards on offense to 220 for Fairborn. The Golden Eagles’ junior quarterback Brendan Labensky threw for 53 yards, completing 4-of-9 passes, but sprightly Justin Sloan rushed for 80 yards on 22 carries.
“Justin Sloan had a nice game for us. He’s running the ball North and South how we like it. For that little body he’s got, he gets a lot out of it,” Jenkins said. Sloan is all of 5-foot-6 inches and 135 pounds, and he was soaking wet.
The Golden Eagles scored twice in the second quarter.
Bellbrook marched 65 yards on 11 plays for the first score. Six-foot, 180-pound quarterback Brendan Labensky ran in from two yards out, and Caden Kooken hit the extra point to give the Golden Eagles the 7-0 lead.
Bellbrook put together a 12-play drive in the half’s final 3:48, and capitalized on a Fairborn hit out of bounds, and a dead-ball personal foul as time expired, to get Kooken set up for a 30-yard field goal for the 10-0 margin.
Kooken had initially missed from 45 yards out, but the personal foul moved the ball 15 yards closer and the Golden Eagles junior placekicker nailed the second try.
“Oh, we reverted back to some bad things from our past (penalties). It seemed like when our quarterback (Watts) went down (with a bone bruise), that the cards were stacked against us. But hey, I’ll coach football for 100 years, if the kids respond that way. … This team played with as much class and poise in that second half as a state championship football team,” Fairborn coach Chris Roark said. “What more could you ask for? We would’ve liked to have won the game, and we would’ve liked to have made a play. We just gotta learn from that, and not dig that deep (10-0 first half) hole.”
Despite the second-half bone bruise, Watts ended up with 69 yards passing (6-for-15 with an interception). K.J. Redmon led the Skyhawks’ ground game with 73 yards gained on 16 carries. At least seven of those carries were when he filled in at QB while Watts was being tended to on the sideline.
Tackles numbers were not immediately available, but senior Damien Mentzer and freshman Hunter Warner made the majority of them for the Skyhawks (1-1). The PA announcer once credited a tackle to ‘Hunter Mentzer.’
Friday’s game was moved up one hour to a 6 p.m. start in hopes of beating the worst of the forecasted rain from what was left of Hurricane Harvey. Bellbrook donated its half of the game’s 50-50 raffle — $161 — to the Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.
Score By Quarters
Fairborn 0 0 0 6 — 6
Bellbrook 0 10 0 2 — 12
B — Brendan Labensky 2 run (Caden Kooken kick)
B — Cooken 30 field goal
F — Dawson Blakely 12 run (kick failed)
B — Safety