BELLBROOK — Most teams are aware of Bellbrook’s potent, punishing offense.
The Golden Eagles can stop teams, too.
“Our defense is lights out,” Coach Jeff Jenkins said Saturday after his top-seeded team dismantled perennial power St. Marys Memorial, 44-14, in a Division-III, Region 12 playoff game Saturday. “Our linebackers, every one of them are all district-level players, if not better. Relentless defensive line. Solid defensive backfield.”
The Roughriders found that out quickly, as they had, um, a rough time moving the ball. Memorial (6-3) led the Western Buckeye League at 262.7 rushing yards per game in the regular season and unofficially had just 134 against Bellbrook, with a good chunk coming in garbage time. Yes, the Riders were without their top two backs, who were injured the week before against Franklin. But with Bellbrook’s game plan, it’s likely it wouldn’t have mattered.
“We expected them to come firing out,” said linebacker Ethan Fryman, who heard his name called often on both sides of the ball. “We just let our athletes take care of what we need to take care of. We knew if we played on defense our style, we can beat anyone.”
The Roughriders never made it into the Bellbrook end of the field in the first half, and made it across midfield for the first time on the second-half kickoff, which was returned 93 yards for a touchdown to make the score 31-7. Memorial then recovered an onside kick on the Bellbrook 48 but managed just three yards before turning the ball over on downs. Memorial’s only offensive touchdown came late in the game on a 1-yard run by QB Gavin Reinke.
Running back Ashton Ault outgained Memorial all by himself, running 22 tims for 151 yards and two touchdowns. In all the Golden Eagles (8-0) ran for 200 yards on 36 carries and three TDs. In the regular season Memorial allowed just 80.3 rushing yards per game and only two TDs.
“Ashton is a very special player,” Jenkins said. “He’s a great two-way player.”
A 2-yard run by Ault gave Bellbrook a 7-0 lead just three minutes in. His first three carries went for eight, four, and 31 yards to help set up the score. Ault, Gavyn Roop, and Jonah Atchison made sure Memorial went nowhere on its first possession, and then taking over on its own 33, Bellbrook moved all the way to the Memorial seven before setting for a 24-yard field goal from Taylor Jordan on the first play of the second quarter.
The Roughriders again punted on their next possession and the Golden Eagles drove 70-yards on seven plays, including a perfect 40-yard slant pass from Alex Westbrock to Fryman. Two players later Westbrock scored on a nine-yard run for a 17-0 lead.
Memorial again punted and starting on its own 32, Bellbrook needed just four plays as Fryman hit a wide-open Atchison on a 56-yard halfback pass for a TD. After another three-and-out, Bellbrook made it 31-0 with less than a minute in the half on a two-yard run by Ault. Bellbrook used more trickeration on the drive as Jordan pitched to Fryman, who threw a 22-yard pass to Westbrock.
“Something we’ve been working on for a few weeks now,” Jenkins said.
Bellbrook made it 37-7 on its first second-half possession using a short field to score on a 42-yard pass from Westbrock to Jordan, who was interfered with and still made the catch. The extra point originally was good, but officials threw a flag on Bellbrook for procedure and the second attempt missed.
On Memorial’s next possession Ben Zerby jumped in front of a pass and returned it 44 yards for a 44-7 score late in the third quarter.
The Golden Eagles will host 7-1 Hamilton Ross at 7 p.m. Friday. The fifth-seeded Rams’ only loss came in week one, 41-7, to No. 2 Hamilton Badin.
Contact Scott Halasz t 937-502-4507.