There's something about playing Union Local that brings out the best in Spencer Badia.
A year ago in Morristown, the Bellaire quarterback torched the Jets for 352 yards and four touchdowns. Saturday afternoon at sun-splashed Nelson Field in the All-American Village, the strong-armed junior bettered both of those marks as the Big Reds celebrated Senior Day with a 52-14 victory.
Badia finished with season-highs of 385 yards and five touchdowns, with four different receivers reaching the end zone. He now has 2,077 yards and 18 touchdowns in eight games.
BELLAIRE junior Nick Patrone is tackled by Travis James during the first half of Saturday’s game at Nelson Field. Patrone caught six passes for 145 yards.
"We played pretty well on offense," Bellaire head coach Jose Davis allowed. "We took advantage of some of what they were giving us, and our receivers made some good plays.
"We blocked pretty well on some of our screens and things like that. All in all, everything went hand in hand. When everyone does their jobs, things can be pretty good for us."
Neither team could get any offense going on its first two drives of the game, but Bellaire would find the end zone on its next five drives as Badia worked his magic.
Starting at their own 42, the Big Reds needed just three plays to reach paydirt as Badia rolled to his right before unleashing a laser that Kenny Hess caught in traffic for a 21-yard score. Dalton Conroy booted the first of his six PATs for a 7-0 reading.
After the Bellaire defense held Union Local on downs near midfield, Badia fired a quick hitter to Nick Patrone in the right flat. Patrone used a nifty move to get between a pair of Jet defenders and was off to the races to complete a 31-yard scoring play.
Union Local cut the deficit in half on the second play of the second quarter. Sophomore quarterback Gavin Porter lofted the ball downfield where freshman Kaleb McDiffitt made a great catch in the end zone from 36 yards out. Eric Dunfee kicked the extra point.
That touchdown seemed to inspire Bellaire, both offensive and defensively, as the Big Reds lit up the scoreboard with a trio of Badia touchdown passes and a 31-yard fumble return by Logan Koshenka.
Badia hit Quinton Crosby with a 30-yard strike to make it 21-7, and then found Tyler West in the right flat. The fleet-footed West dodged a pair of defenders before getting to the sidelines. Badia and Hess clocked once again, this time on a 44-yard connection as Hess made a great run after catching the ball.
"Our receivers have really come a long way, especially in understanding what we are trying to accomplish on each play," Davis said. "They know that everyone has a role in what we do and they are catching on. All of them are good young kids with young legs, so they had better run well."
Things only got worse for Union Local on its next possession as Porter was hit by Koshenka. The ball and Porter became separated from each other, with Koshenka performing the scoop-and-score. Conroy's PAT made it 42-7.
The Jets got on the scoreboard again before the first half ended when Porter and McDiffitt hooked up again, this time from 31 yards away. Dunfee made it 42-14 at the break.
With all the offense in the second quarter, both teams got defensive in the third frame as a pair of goose eggs were posted on the scoreboard.
Bellaire concluded the scoring when Conroy kicked his seventh field goal of the season, a 22-yarder, and backup tailback Tony McGee ran in from 14 yards out. Cody LaRoche tacked on that extra-point.
Conroy's field goal gave him seven for the season, one behind all-time leaders Paul Marchese (1973) and Mark Marchese (1980).
Porter passed for 145 yards and the two scores, but was picked off thrice.
Patrone led Bellaire's wideouts with half-a-dozen grabs for 104 yards and a TD. Crosby caught five aerials for 99 yards and a score, while Hunter Westlake had four catches for 67 yards. Hess snagged three passes for 82 yards and West had the 33-yard TD.
Bellaire goes on the road Friday at Richmond against Edison and ends at Purple Rider Stadium against long-time rival Martins Ferry. Union Local, meanwhile, hosts Harrison Central and St. Clairsville in weeks 9 and 10.
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