Chiefs Fall at Regional Final 19-13

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By: Dave Bezusko & April King

The Bellefontaine football team’s run through the State Playoffs came to an end in Marion Friday night, dropping an intense defensive struggle, 19-13 to top-seeded Bishop Watterson in the Division III Region 11 Finals.

Watterson quarterback A.J. McAninch threw an 11-yard back-shoulder touchdown pass to Jake Uhlenhake to break a 13-13 tie with 8:52 left in the game for the difference.  The play capped a 70-yard Eagles drive to start the fourth quarter.  After Bellefontaine turned the ball over on downs at the Watterson 41-yard line with just under five minutes left, Watterson ran out the clock to preserve the win.

The Chiefs had the lead midway through the 3rd quarter, turning two interceptions into 13 unanswered points.  Riley Neer scored a pick-six against McAninch, stepping in front of an intended receiver and outrunning all the Eagles 70 yards down the sideline for the Chieftains first score of the game on the opening drive of the second half.  Alex Crabill’s extra point made it 7-6 Chiefs.  C.J. Wilson intercepted McAninch on the next possession, setting up Bellefontaine’s lone offensive scoring drive.  Wilson caught an 11-yard bullet from Tavien St. Clair on a slant pattern to give the Chiefs a 13-6 lead with 5:26 to play in the third.  Watterson would respond with a 33-yard touchdown by Zach Webber to tie the score at 13-all, setting up the fourth-quarter dramatics.

Bellefontaine could never establish its running game Friday and was limited to minus-5 yards rushing on 12 carries and just 150 yards of total offense in the game.  St. Clair threw two first-quarter interceptions.  But Bellefontaine’s defense kept them in the game, holding Waterson to two Rudy Kessinger field goals and a 6-0 Eagles lead at halftime.

Friday marked the 4th time Watterson has ended Bellefontaine’s season in the playoffs (1999, 2000, 2009, 2023). The Eagles (13-1) advance beyond the Regional Finals for the eighth time in school history to play Celina in the State Semifinals next Friday.

Bellefontaine’s season ends at 11-3, with the team winning three playoff games in one postseason for the first time and advancing to the Regional Finals for the third time in school history (1997, 1999, and 2023).

Head Coach Jason Brown had this to say after the game:
5 comments
  1. Aaron Taylor
    Aaron Taylor
    November 18, 2023 at 4:49 pm

    Should’ve done a lot more screen passes,and the pa** protection,during the most critical parts of the game,instead of those 3 yards,or negative yards,and a cloud of dust,those are the things that lost us that game …We had those guys,the momentum was in our favor,but just like b***er,we let our final four hopes slip right through our fingers…With that being said though,hats off to a stellar season,and go Chiefs!

    Reply
  2. Chieftain for life
    Chieftain for life
    November 18, 2023 at 6:00 pm

    Thank you Chiefs for an awesome season!!! It was an honor to watch this team persevere and make history! Be proud of yourselves as individuals and as a team! You have earned it!

    Reply
  3. Dave Taylor
    Dave Taylor
    November 18, 2023 at 7:28 pm

    Accolades, great work, thankyou

    Reply
  4. Ken
    Ken
    November 19, 2023 at 5:51 am

    The Monday morning quarter backs will now come out of the woodwork and shoulda, woulda, coulda the game. Bottom line is the Chiefs had a very good season. Watterson had a better game plan and executed it better than Bellefontaine. They shutdown the run, and yards after catch, and Bellefontaine never adjusted. The score was a lot closer than the actual play indicated, Watterson stopped themselves several times. The Chiefs need to reload for next season considering all the seniors they will loose.

    Reply
  5. Chad
    Chad
    November 20, 2023 at 9:16 am

    As a long time Laker, I’m very proud of you kids..

    Reply

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