Braves pounce on Wildcats early, advance to semis, 35-13
Trevor Love carries the ball for Bellmont in a regular season match-up. (Photo by Deb Shannon)
SOUTH WHITLEY—A monster 28-0 start propelled the Braves to a 35-13 stroll into the sectional semi-finals on Friday night over the Whitko Wildcats on the road.
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"Our schedule prepared us for this," Bellmont coach Larry Getts noted after the win. "These guys were co-champs in their conference but we played some 6A and 4A schools in ours. We picked up a good win against a good team but we definitely felt prepared with the tough conference games we played."
The Wildcats were 6-3 on the season earning a share of the Three Rivers Conference but went 1-3 against teams in class 3A or higher beating only Tippecanoe Valley in their final game last week.
Against the Braves, Whitko simply looked out-matched.
The Braves pushed seven across the board early on their first possession when Chase Ellsworth blasted a 26-yard run to the right completing a 72-yard drive that took four minutes. John Sefton caught a pass from QB Jordan Amacker on a curl route for 16 yards during the drive as a sign of things to come.
After an impressive three and out on defense, the Braves went right back to work with the football in their possession. Starting from the Wildcats 43, Bellmont pushed a first down before Amacker connected with Sefton once again, this time in the end zone for a 26-yard TD pass that put the Braves in cruise control with a 14-0 lead.
Coach Getts talked about the importance of establishing the passing game early against Whitko.
"The pass is only good if you complete them," noted the BHS coach. "It loosened up our running game because they couldn't just sit with 11 guys in the box looking to stop us. Jordan did a nice job making decisions and our other guys came through contributing in the pass game as well."
The "other guys" passing would come into play later after the Braves forced a fumble at mid-field just two plays after a 15-yard keeper from QB Ethan Nicodemus and then a 14-yard run from Trace Killian seemed to be moving the Wildcats down the field. Trevor Love forced the fumble for the Braves who took over at the 47.
On that ensuing drive, Love faked the run to the right instead rolling out to pass and his target hit its mark in the arms of Sefton who made the catch for 28 yards to end the first quarter.
The Braves would capitalize on the first play in the second frame when Zack Macklin raced to the pylon on the left side after nabbing an Amacker pass for the 14-yard score and a 21-0 lead.
After three straight punts from both teams, the Braves had possession with eight minutes in the half moving the ball down field from their own 40 with a 12-yard pass to Ellsworth and a 22-yard rush from Love before pulling out their second halfback pass of the night. Ellsworth took his turn hurling the football finding the county's top receiver Sefton for a 19-yard diving touchdown alone in the end zone for a 28-0 cushion.
The best drive of the half for Whitko came with 2:11 left in the half as they moved the ball from their own 22 into Braves' territory. A 23-yard catch from Garrett Elder was called back by a penalty and the drive was ultimately defused as the clock ran out on the Wildcats.
The home team posted just four first downs in the half falling way behind on the scoreboard.
The Wildcats would find the end zone on their first drive in the second half, however, starting from their own 20. In what turned out to be their best drive of the night, the Wildcats ventured 80 yards down field nabbing a pair of first downs, then taking advantage of a costly unsportsmanlike penalty against the Braves that kept the drive alive on third down.
The next play was a 20-yard pass to Killian and eventually Nicodemus ran in a five-yard keeper for the score. After the missed kick it was 28-6 Bellmont.