It’s a long drive to Rockton from Belvidere. Not many made the trek north to see the Bucs opening game. There were plenty of gaps in the visitor stands. Those that braved the traffic and could manage to find a parking spot didn’t have a lot to cheer about. Down at the half, they could only watch as the Bucs were unable to turn the tide of what became a runaway loss to the Indians.
The Indians won the coin toss and deferred to start off the second half. Starting from their own 9 yard line, the Bucs offense started on the ground. Quarterback Tiras Harris kept the ball to get Belvidere up to the 29 yard line for a first down. The Bucs broke it open with a run up the middle, getting down to the 17 yard line of Hononegah. The Indians defense was able to hold running back Matt Safranek to a four yard run and Harris was sacked for a loss. Belvidere was unable to convert on a fourth down and twelve and the Indians took over on their own 14. Despite the field position, it only took Hononegah two plays to get it into the end zone. The kick after was good and the Indians were up 7 – 0 with 7:58 left in the first quarter. The Bucs were unable to move the ball and had to punt it away. Hononegah fumbled, but recovered on their own 37. The Bucs defense went to work, pushing the Indians backwards and forcing them to punt. With four minutes left in the first, Belvidere got the ball back on their own 39 yard line. Matt Safranek ran it up to midfield and beyond, getting a set of handoffs down to the 35 yard line of Hononegah. A quarterback keeper at the end of the quarter got the Bucs down to the 26 yard line.
The Bucs picked up where they left off at the start of the second quarter. Tiras Harris kept the ball and ran it down to the ten yard line for a first and goal. Unfortunately, that was as close as they could get. The defense got in the backfield, holding Tiras Harris behind the line of scrimmage. James Johnson came in as quarterback, but Hononegah sacked him for a loss. The Bucs gave it up on downs. Belvidere kept them honest on the ground at first, but a ten yard pass to Dillion Logan kept the drive alive. Two runs later, the Indians were back in the end zone after a thirty five yard run by Tyler Tucek on a reverse. Matt Adams’s kick was good and the Indians had a 14 – 0 lead. The Bucs were down, but Jacob Ortiz-Hansen took the kick off and ran it back into Indians territory. Belvidere started on the 40 yard line. Tiras Harris was back at quarterback. He kept the ball and ran it down to the 28. Another run by Harris pushed it down to the 15 yard line. Devon Jowers’s eight yard run got their attention off of Harris long enough for him to score from seven yards out. Brian Voss’s kick was good and the score was 14 – 7 with 4:35 left in the half. On the kick off, the Indians fumbled the ball and Belvidere recovered on the Indians 25 yard line. Hononegah’s defenders held tight, but the Bucs managed to convert on fourth and inches. Tiras Harris bounced off a number of tacklers to get down to the 2 yard line. Matt Safranek went in for the score on the next play. Voss’s point after was good and the score was tied at 14 with 1:37 left in the half. Despite a couple of penalties and an injured player, the Indians put together a 68 yard drive culminating in Tyler Tucek’s scamper into the end zone from 6 yards out and less than 30 seconds on the clock. Belvidere went into the locker room down 21 – 14 at the half.
There was some potential for a Bucs comeback in the third quarter. The Indians fumbled on their first possession and Belvidere recovered. Unfortunately, they fumbled it right back to the Indians four plays later. Brett McWilliams ran eight yards for a touchdown. Matt Adams’s kick made it a 28 – 14 game. The Bucs went four and out. The Indians scored again to make it 35 – 14. Belvidere’s next possession lasted a single play. A fumble was recovered by Cody Eaton. The Bucs were able to hold Hononegah to four and out, but on first down, the Bucs fumbled the ball again. Matt Safranek managed to recover.
The fourth quarter began with the Bucs in control of the ball, but on their own 12 yard line. They managed to put together a drive lasting three minutes, but couldn’t manage to get off their end of the field. Their punt was returned into Bucs territory. With a short field, Hononegah needed less than ninety seconds to score one last time. Brett McWilliams’s leap over the middle defenders gave the Indians a 41 – 14 lead. Tiras Harris took the kick off back about 45 yards to allow Belvidere to start on the Indians 30 yard line. Even with that advantage, they were unable to move the ball against Hononegah. The Indians took over on downs and kept the ball the last six minutes of the game. The Bucs never had another chance on offense.
Belvidere travels to Machesney Park Friday evening to take on Harlem. The Huskies are 1 – 0 after beating Belvidere North last Friday 24 – 7. The game begins at 7:15.