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FORT MITCHELL, Ky. -- Beechwood exploded for four touchdowns in the first quarter and cruised to a 41-18 victory over Class 1A foe, Bellevue on a soggy, cold Friday night at Edgar McNabb Field.
That early surge by Beechwood (5-2) proved to be too large of a deficit for Bellevue to overcome. Rainy conditions and waterlogged turf help Beechwood play to its strength. The ground attack was the focal point of the team's offense.
“Running the ball was our game plan after we found out the weather wasn’t going to be so great,” junior running back Ethan Stringer said. “I’ve had problems in the past couple weeks with hanging onto the ball, that obviously was my biggest worry tonight.”
Beechwood benefited from two costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on Bellevue’s defense on the opening drive of the contest. The penalties spotted the Tigers 30 yards, and helped set up a 16-yard touchdown run by Stringer to give Beechwood a 7-0 lead.
Bellevue (4-4) struggled mightily to adjust to the wet conditions as issues with throwing the ball began to brew immediately on its first possession. Senior quarterback Tate Grainger, who has passed for over 1,700 yards this season, bobbled his first two pass attempts forcing the visiting Tigers to punt.
A crafty punt return helped Beechwood get out to the Bellevue 36 yard line to jump-start the Tigers' second drive of the game. Two plays later, junior quarterback Kyle Fieger connected with senior tight end Jonathon Stokes for a 32-yard touchdown to give Beechwood a 14-0 advantage.
After another empty trip Bellevue punted from its own 18 yard line. Beechwood returned the short punt to the Bellevue 21 yard line, which led to a 1-yard keeper by Fieger to give the Tigers a three-touchdown lead.
Late in the first quarter, Beechwood lost a fumble at the Bellevue 24 yard line. Grainger and the Tigers' offense took over deep in their on territory. To try and find rhythm in the passing game, Grainger stepped back and whipped a pass toward the middle of the field. The ball zipped straight into the hands of Beechwood junior defensive lineman Justin Overstreet, who returned the interception 42 yards for a touchdown.
Beechwood tacked on another touchdown in the second quarter to take a 34-0 lead going into the break.
Bellevue finally scored on a breakaway 57-yard touchdown run by junior Cameron Chase to close out the third quarter of play.
Beechwood scored on the ensuing drive that was capped by a 6-yard touchdown run by Stringer. Bellevue scored two more touchdowns late in the fourth quarter.
Fieger finished the game 2 of 7 throwing for 43 yards and one passing touchdown. Stringer had 13 carries for 116 yards and three touchdowns for Beechwood. The Tigers finished the game with 209 rushing yards.
Grainger was 2 of 10 for minus-2 yards. Bellevue finished the game with 249 rushing yards.
Beechwood will travel to Dayton (2-5), while Bellevue hosts Ludlow (5-2) next Friday night.
Mike Collins is a native of nearby Independence, Ky. and a graduate of Simon Kenton High School and Northern Kentucky University. While at Northern, Mike wrote for The Northerner, a weekly newspaper run by students at NKU. He was the sports editor for the paper for over one year. Collins wrote more than 40 stories for The Northerner in which he covered men’s and women’s basketball, golf, soccer, cross country, volleyball, baseball and softball. If you are interested in covering your team, please CONTACT US.