Over the years, Swanson Stadium has been a “home away from home” for Belvidere. Home to the Guilford Vikings and the Rockford East E-rabs, the Bucs hadn’t lost a game there since the twentieth century. Unfortunately, this was the year for Guilford. They had beaten their first Belvidere team – Belvidere North – at home the week before. And unfortunately they beat their second Belvidere team last Friday with a stellar running performance.
The Bucs began with a near textbook perfect opening drive. Starting with a touchback on their 20 yard line, Belvidere moved the ball steadily on the ground with a combination of runs by Patrick O’Brien, Phil Czechowicz, Tiras Harris and a couple of quarterback keepers for Kyle Tevebaugh. The Guilford defense didn’t allow too many big plays and the Bucs’ drive stalled at their 44 yard line. On fourth and short, Tevebaugh faked a handoff and scampered up past the first down marker and grabbed another sixteen yards. The next play, Kyle Tevebaugh kept the ball again to get down to the Vikings’ 28 yard line. Guilford took a time out to regroup. Patrick O’Brien smashed ahead through the middle to get the ball down to the seven yard line. Nik Flagg got it down to the two where Tevebaugh pushed into the end zone for the first touchdown of the night. The kick after was good and the Bucs were up 7 – 0, taking almost five minutes off the clock.
The Bucs kick off was short, but Guilford did not have an opportunity to return it. Starting on their own 38 yard line, on second and eight, Guilford went to Stavhn Leavy for the first time (but not the last). Leavy rounded the corner and broke out to gain 22 yards. The Bucs were ready for him on the next play, but then Guilford went to the air, completing a nine yard pass to Melvin Burks. Another completion for Burks got the Vikings down to the Belvidere 17 yard line and Stavhn Leavy ran down to the six yard line before Guilford ran into some problems. Two illegal procedure penalties in two plays kicked the Vikings back ten yards. On first down and goal from the sixteen, Guilford went to the air again; Melvin Burks came down with it in the end zone. The point after was good and the score was tied at seven a piece.
Another touchback for the Bucs and they picked up where they left off. Patrick O’Brien pushed through the line up the middle to grab 27 yards and get into Guilford territory. Belvidere went to the air and found George Waddell at the 19 yard line. The Bucs ended the first quarter with a fumble, but they recovered it and pushed the last ten yards into the end zone at the opening of the second quarter. The Bucs were prepared to kick a point after, but Guilford was called for offsides that put the ball half the distance to the goal. The Bucs decided to change their plans and go for a two point conversion. Unfortunately, they lost the ball at the one yard line. Still, with 11:24 left in the first half, the Bucs were up 13 – 6.
Another short kick by the Bucs combined with a 25 yard return and Guilford started their next drive at midfield. Stavhn Leavy ripped off a 21 yard run down the sideline. A couple of plays later and David Mordick ran in from the six yard line. The Bucs blocked the kick after and the game was tied at 13.
Guilford finally kicked a ball that didn’t stop in the end zone. Tiras Harris picked up the ball and ran it up about 30 yards. Runs by Patrick O’Brien and Phil Czechowicz got the Bucs into Guilford territory, but the drive stalled near midfield. On third down and long, Kyle Tevebaugh went to the air, connecting with Charles Chatman to move the chains. Another pass to Chatman moved the ball 13 yards. Inside the red zone, Patrick O’Brien managed to push the ball down to the 12 yard line. Belvidere tried another pass, but it was too long, out of the end zone. On third down and eight from the ten yard line, Tevebaugh threw it again, but David Mordick came up with it at the goal line. Guilford took over on their own two yard line. The Bucs defense held them to just eight yards and they were forced to punt. Belvidere got it back at the Vikings’ 33 yard line. As time was running out in the half, Kyle Tevebaugh connected with Charles Chatman to get it down to the 22 yard line. However, the Guilford defense dug their heels and the Bucs couldn’t advance any father. On fourth down and three, the Vikings broke into the backfield. Tevebaugh ran to the sidelines and tossed the ball away before being sacked. The referees ruled it intentional grounding. In any case, Guilford took over on downs and the first half ended with the Vikings taking a knee.
The Vikings came out strong in the third quarter, but were the victims of their own mistakes. On second down, Jeremy Beal found Melvin Burks at midfield. He tore down the field to the end zone. Unfortunately for Guilford, a holding penalty took the touchdown away from them. Two more penalties extinguished any chance of a forward drive and the Vikings were forced to punt. The Bucs had good field position again, starting at midfield. They were able to move the ball on the ground and take two minutes off the clock. But – again – the Guilford red zone defense thwarted the Bucs. On fourth down and short, the Bucs tried to pass. It was incomplete and a holding call on Belvidere added insult to injury. Guilford stayed on the ground with a pair of handoffs to Stavhn Leavy. On second down, Leavy got loose. Mike Whitt tackled him from behind at the Bucs’ 20 yard line, preventing the touchdown. However, Jeremy Beal ran it in 14 yards two plays later. The point after was good and the Vikings had their first lead of the game: 20 – 13.
The Bucs fumbled the kickoff, recovered, but on their own 15 yard line. The Vikings defense was inspired, sacking Kyle Tevebaugh on third down and five for a big loss and ending the drive. The Bucs punted it away and Guilford started on the Belvidere 48. However the Bucs defense stood their ground. Stavhn Leavy stung them for six yards, but hobbled off the field on second down. Guilford punched it down to the thirty yard line, but was unable to advance any farther. Jeremy Beal went to the air, but was unable to connect with any of his receivers. The Bucs dodged a bullet when the Vikings missed a catch at the 1 yard line. On fourth down and long, Leavy came back in and scrambled nine yards. Close, but not close enough. The Bucs took over on downs.
Starting the fourth quarter, the Bucs were advancing. Tiras Harris twisted and spun his way to a 33 yard gain to get the Bucs into Guilford territory. A pair of runs by Phil Czechowicz gave Belvidere another first down at the 29 and Harris grabbed another first down, moving the ball to the 17. On second down, a shuffle pass was picked off by Melvin Burks who ran it back 83 yards for a Vikings score. The kick after was good and the Bucs were down 27 – 13.
But they weren’t out. Tiras Harris’s 22 yard return on the kickoff gave them good field position. Kyle Tevebaugh launched a missile to Charles Chatman for 17 yards. A pitch to Harris got them onto the Guilford side of the field. On third down, Tevebaugh went to the air again. His pass to Chatman good for 35 yards. Patrick O’Brien ran it in from the five yard line, the point after was good and the Bucs were only down 27 – 20 with 7:54 left in the game. David Mordick responded for Guilford on first down, running 26 yards down to the Bucs’ 37. Another handoff to Stavhn Leavy resulted in a 31 yard touchdown run. Once again, Guilford had a 14 point lead.
With 6:26 left, the Bucs bobbled the kickoff, but Tiras Harris still managed to return it 37 yards. The Bucs went to the air again and a pass to Charles Chatman was good for 26 yards. Another pass to George Waddell and a run by Phil Czechowicz and the Bucs were in scoring position again, with a second down and four at the 15 yard line. Unfortunately, the Vikings decided to make a stand. A pass to Chatman was broken up and Steven Carroll sacked the quarterback on fourth down. Guilford took over with 4:45 left on their own 27 yard line. The Bucs held tough, but Stavhn Leavy broke four tackles to rush another 39 yards to gain a first down in Belvidere territory. While the Bucs defense stopped another touchdown, they were helpless to prevent Guilford was eating up time. The Bucs got the ball back on downs, but with only 1:07 left to play. The offense was unable to get anything going and Guilford took over again with 15 seconds left in the game, a two touchdown lead and nothing to do but take a knee.
But there were still a couple of surprises left. The ball ended up on the ground before Jeremy Beal’s knee was down and the Bucs surged to pick it up. With seven seconds left from their own 26 yard line, Belvidere went to the air. Jeff Janusevic came down with it and that was the game. The Bucs lost 34 – 20, their first loss to Guilford in six years.
The Bucs return to Funderburg Stadium tonight as do the Freeport Pretzels. The Pretzels played Belvidere North at Funderburg last Friday, 40 – 21 winners over the Blue Thunder. Both teams are 2 – 1 and the game starts at 7:15.