BELLAIRE - Former Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes and ex-NFL head coach Chuck Knox would have been proud of Shadyside's effort Saturday afternoon.
Hayes was well-known for his theory of "three yards and a cloud of dust" during his days with the Buckeyes, while Knox earned the nickname "Ground Chuck" for his run-oriented offenses with the Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams.
Behind a mammoth offensive line, the Tigers (3-0) literally ran over neighboring rival Bellaire (1-2) by a 46-29 margin on sun-splashed, and jam-packed, Nelson Field. It was the first meeting on the gridiron between the two schools since 1950.
Shadyside’s Chris Littell races Bellaire’s Austin McConville to the corner during the first half of Saturday’s game. Littell ran for 92 yards and two touchdowns and caught another.
Bellaire senior wide receiver Nick Patrone hauls in a pass in front of Shadyside’s Logan Price during the first half.
Shadyside’s Austin Dorris fights through a Bellaire tackle for an additional gain. Dorris ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
A trio of Shadyside ballcarriers accounted for 420 yards and half-a-dozen touchdowns on 55 carries, with junior quarterback Austin Dorris and classmate tailback Eric Howell leading the way with 165 and 163 yards, respectively. Both found the end zone twice. Senior Chris Littell chipped in 92 stripes on 15 totes. He also reached paydirt twice.
However, running backs are only as good as the linemen in front of them, and on this beautiful late summer afternoon, the Tigers' hogs were dominant. The five interior players are senior center Zach Meadows (5-11, 266), senior guard Cory Banco (6-3, 278), junior guard Jacob Spencer (5-9, 290), senior tackle Hunter Hammond (5-10, 246) and junior tackle Colton Campbell (6-3, 260).
"I've got to tip my hat to those guys," Shadyside head coach Mark Holenka said while choking back tears of happiness. "They did one heckuva job.
"The (offensive) line did a tremendous job because we didn't have to play a lot of defense in the second half," Holenka added. "But when we did play defense, I thought we played pretty well. The last drive of the second quarter we really started playing good defense. We kind of slowed their passing game down a little."
Bellaire head coach Jose Davis agreed with the theory that games are won in the trenches.
"They manhandled us. They absolutely manhandled us," he said. "They absolutely manhandled us. That's the bottom line."
Shadyside held a 26-21 edge at the half as the teams combined for 34 second-quarter points after a sluggish start, but was held on downs to start the third quarter and forced to punt.
Disaster struck the Big Reds on their first snap as confusion on the handoff resulted in a fumble, which the Tigers' Banco alertly pounced on at the Bellaire 45.
Nine running plays later, Littell bulled his way over from three yards out. The two-point pass failed, but the visitors were ahead, 32-21.
After an exchange of punts, Bellaire marched 69 yards on nine plays as senior quarterback Spencer Badia found Brendon Ross in the right flat and the senior wideout found the end zone to complete a 3-yard scoring toss. Electing to go for two, Badia rolled right and lobbed the ball into the back corner of the end zone where Nick Patrone made a leaping grab for a 32-29 reading.
Howell got some of the momentum back for the Tigers when he rambled 32 yards up the gut on the first play, moving the ball to the Bellaire 35. However, the Big Reds stopped Howell for no gain on the next two attempts, setting up a third-and-10.
Dorris faked a handoff and followed his blockers to the left. He cut back towards the middle where a group of players were entangled. Keeping his powerful legs moving, the 6-5, 215-pounder emerged from the other side and raced to paydirt, completing the 35-yard scoring play and giving his a team a 38-29 advantage with just under nine minutes left to play.
"What a run by Austin," Holenka said. "That was the game right there. He never gave up."
On Bellaire's ensuing possession, Badia was looking for Patrone over the middle but Shadyside's Jake Duvall stepped in front of the pass and intercepted it.
"He may have gotten beat on a couple of slants earlier in the game, but I told him he had one big play left. That was it," Holenka allowed.
Thirteen consecutive running plays netted 55 yards and ate up nearly six-and-a-half minutes off the clock, keeping Bellaire's quick-strike offense off the field.
Howell concluded the march with a three-yard run. He also ran for the two points.
"We just have to keep on working," Davis said of Bellaire's porous run defense. "Sometimes it's not about the X's and O's, but the Jimmy's and Joe's."
Littell gave Shadyside the early lead with a 20-yard burst off the right side on the Tigers opening possession.
Bellaire came back with an 80-yard hookup between Badia and Kenny Hess late in the quarter. Hess got behind the Tigers' secondary down the left sidelines and Badia delivered a strike. Cody LaRoche's PAT gave the hosts a 7-6 edge.
Dorris and Littell combined on a 45-yard scoring play - Shadyside's lone completion in the game - to put the Tigers back on top, 14-7 as Howell ran for two points.
Badia and Patrone sandwiched a pair of touchdown passes (14 and 64 yards) around a 17-yard jaunt by Dorris to give Bellaire at 21-20 lead with with 4:21 left in the half.
Shadyside answered quickly, however, as Dorris picked up 15 yards on first down before Howell went around left end for 51 yards and six points. The two-point conversion once again failed, leaving the Tigers on top 26-21.
Despite the loss, Badia etched his name in the OVAC record books. He became only the eighth quarterback to surpass the 6,000-yard mark in his career. Unofficially, he has 6,097 yards. He was 16-for-27 for 275 yards, four touchdowns and the aforementioned pick.
Patrone caught six passes for 137 yards.
Bellaire could only manage 28 yards on 16 rushes.
Both teams play at home Friday as Shadyside welcomes Shenandoah to Fleming Field in its 2013 home opener. Bellaire remains at Nelson Field for homecoming as Edison visits.