Friday night was the perfect Homecoming game for Belvidere: a beautiful clear night with a fall chill, an energetic crowd in a packed Funderburg Stadium, and a Bucs team that rolled over the visiting Streamwood Sabres 48 – 6. Before the game, Brandon Smaha was awarded Homecoming King honors. He was given a crown and a sash. During the game, he was given the football and gained 73 yards on six carries.
The Sabres took the opening kickoff. Jake Cassin only managed a couple of yards before Scott Rice tackled him at the 22 yard line. Sabres quarterback Orion Pahl managed to complete a pass to Ian Shelton for a first down at the 35. That was all they could do in their first possession. The Bucs squelched Streamwood’s running game and Pahl was unable to connect with another receiver. They punted it away after a minute and a half.
Belvidere started their first possession on their own 33 yard line. A series of hand-offs quickly got the Bucs into Streamwood territory. Adam Wells gained eleven yards, Brandon Smaha gained eight. Tyler Pearse pushed up to midfield, a twelve yard gain and a first down. Four plays later, on first down, Matt Barr connected with Pearse in the end zone for the Bucs’ first touchdown of the night. Jason Schwartz point after was good and Belvidere had a 7 – 0 lead.
Streamwood surprised the Bucs defense when Eldra Dabbs (5’7, 265 pounds) steamrolled through the front line for a six yard gain. However, Belvidere adjusted quickly and Streamwood was unable to convert on third down. The Sabres tried to convert on a fourth and two. Pahl’s pass to Christopher Dunning was incomplete and the Bucs took over on downs at Streamwood’s 41 yard line.
Brandon Smaha got the ball on second down and rushed down to the six yard line before being pushed out of bounds. Matt Barr kept the ball on the next play, cut to the right and scored. Schwartz’ kick was good and the Bucs were up 14 – 0 with more than six minutes left to play in the first quarter.
Again, Streamwood could not generate any offense. After his initial gain, Eldra Dabbs was unable to get much more. Jason Lucas sacked Orion Pahl for a loss and forced the Sabres to go three and out. Tyler Pearse returned the punt into Streamwood territory and the offense went to work again from the Sabres 42 yard line. Two plays were all they needed. Smaha rushed nine yards and then Matt Stringini took a handoff down the left sideline and into the end zone for the Bucs third touchdown of the night. A bad snap cost Belvidere the point after, but with 3:22 left in the first quarter, the Bucs had a 20 – 0 lead.
Streamwood finished up the first quarter with their first decent drive of the night. On third down and eight and the Bucs defense breaking down the line, Pahl completed a short dump to Shelton who dashed 12 yards for the first down. A pass interference call gave the Sabres a free pass into Bucs territory. Ray Scotti came up big with a sack of Streamwood’s quarterback, but Pahl connected to Shelton again on the next play down at the 14 yard line. The second quarter started with the Sabres looking for their first score of the night. The Bucs defense stiffened up. A handoff to Dunning was met at the line of scrimmage by a crowd of Bucs. Pahl stepped back and lobbed the ball into the end zone, looking for Shelton once again. Grant Magnuson jumped up and denied the touchdown with a two hand block. On fourth down and eight, Pahl went back to pass one more time. He tossed it into a crowd in the end zone. Two or three players made a grab for it, but no one was able to catch it. The Bucs took over on downs.
A quick seven yard rush by Brandon Smaha gave the Bucs some breathing room. Matt Barr dumped a short pass to Tyler Pearse who ran another 20 yards up to the 39. Barr kept the ball on the next play and zig-zagged into Sabres territory. Pearse got the call again and took it down to the red zone. A rare fumble by Brandon Smaha was recovered by Streamwood on their own 7 yard line. However, the Bucs defense made sure they were unable to capitalize. Four downs later, the Sabres were punting it away after gaining only six yards. Tyler Pearse caught the ball at the Bucs 48 yard line and rushed back 52 yards for the touchdown. Matt Barr kept the ball and rushed up the middle for a two point conversion and the Bucs had a 28 – 0 lead.
The Bucs defense clamped down hard on the Sabres. Nathan Kays tipped a pass and Streamwood was held to 2 yards total offense. They punted it away again. Pearse picked up the punt and ran back 30 yards. An illegal substitution call against the Sabres gave the Bucs a first down on the 19 yard line. Matt Stringini took the ball into the end zone, eleven yards, losing a shoe in the process. Jason Schwartz’ kick was good and the Bucs were up 35 – 0.
Streamwood came out passing in their next possession. However, the Bucs defense was ready for the challenge. On third down and six, Scott Rice intercepted an Orion Pahl pass and returned it to the Sabres 33 yard line. Steve Golubski came in for Matt Barr as the Bucs’ offense took the field again. Nate Byers roared down the field, getting down to the 15 yard line. Chris Weber pushed the ball down to the 5 yard line, good enough for another first down. And Adam Wells rushed 4 yards into the end zone for another Belvidere touchdown. Christopher Dunning blocked the point after.
The Sabres went for the air again as time was running out. This time, Ryan Gorham picked off a pass at the Sabres 35. The Bucs offense took to the field again, four handoffs to Chris Weber up the middle only gained nine yards. Streamwood got the ball back on downs with nine seconds left in the half. Pahl was able to connect with Jake Cassin, but he only gained ten yards before time ran out.
With a 41 – 0 score, the second half clock ran with few interruptions. The third quarter was quiet. The biggest excitement was whether the winner of the 50/50 raffle would make an appearance or not.
He did, by the way.
The Bucs took the opening kickoff. While they only gained 28 yards, the drive ate more than five minutes off the clock. The Bucs defense didn’t let down their guard. A handoff to Dunning was stopped behind the line of scrimmage by Mike Umlor, who seemed to materialize to make the stop. Streamwood punted it away and the Bucs started on the Sabres’ 37 yard line. However, Belvidere fumbled on second down and Joesph George recovered for Streamwood.
The fourth quarter started with Streamwood on the move. The Sabres fumbled near midfield, but were able to recover the ball. On second and ten from their own 46, Orion Pahl connected with Michael Humann at the Bucs 32 yard line. Pahl went back to throw deep on the next play and found Ian Shelton waiting in the end zone for a touchdown. The kick after was no good, but Streamwood was on the board: 41 – 6.
Their kick off went out of bounds at the Bucs 30 yard line. Nate Byers converted a third and seven, rushing up to the 49 yard line for a first down. John Earhart looked to score on the next play, but the ball had been whistled dead. No matter. Earhart, along with two rushes by Nate Byers got the Bucs down to the 16 yard line. Mike Jowers got the handoff and powered into the end zone for his first touchdown of the season. The point after was good and the Bucs were up 48 – 6.
The Sabres got the ball back with two minutes left in the game and tried to go out with a fight. After a Dunning rush gained six yards, Pahl took to the air again. Neither pass was complete and the time dwindled down to zero.
With the win, the Bucs are 6 – 0 and alone in first place in the NIC-9. Hononegah beat Guilford 20 – 19 on Friday to break their five game winning streak. The Bucs travel to Rockton this Friday to play the 4 – 2 Indians. The game starts at 7:15.