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Redmen lose lead, but rally to stun Clyde

Mark Hazelwood • Oct 26, 2018 at 11:41 PM

BELLEVUE — Bellevue quarterback Keegan Ray just was not going to lose.

The sophomore tallied 318 yards of offense and four touchdowns - including the game-winner to Gavin Sparling with 25 seconds left - to lift the Redmen to a 28-21 Sandusky Bay Conference Lake division win over Clyde on Friday at Bellevue Athletic Field in the Route 20 rivalry.

"On our last drive, we knew what was going to work," Ray said. "We did not throw to Sparling all night long, but then we did and it got things going and we scored. We like beating Clyde."

Bellevue improves to 4-6 overall and 2-3 in SBC play. Despite the win, the Redmen were officially eliminated from playoff contention.

"Coming into the game, we had everything to gain and nothing to lose," Bellevue coach Ed Nasonti said. "What you saw tonight is pretty much the kind of football we played all year. The only thing is we came up on the short end on four of those games like that."

Ray completed 18-of-29 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns while running 27 times for 102 yards and a touchdown.

The Redmen started their game-winning drive at their own 37-yard line with 1:54 left. Jake Holmer picked up 12 yards on first down and a pass interference call on the Fliers (7-3, 4-1) put Bellevue at the Clyde 34.

An eight-yard pass from Ray to Sparling was followed by two incompletions, bringing up 4th-and-2. Ray then hit Holmer for the first down before spiking the ball. After another incomplete pass, Ray connected with Sparling for a 16-yard pickup before another spike stopped the clock. The final play of the drive saw Ray complete the pass to Sparling in the right side of the end zone for the eight-yard score.

On the two-point conversion try, Dalton Hay completed the halfback pass to Ray to put Bellevue up 28-21.

The Redmen first kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, but Clyde opted to make Bellevue kick it again. It was returned this time, but only two yards further than where the penalty would have put the ball. 12 seconds also ran off the clock. Cam Farrar's pass on the first play of the drive was intercepted by Colton Ray, sending the Redmen into victory formation.

It was all Bellevue early on. After losing senior receiver Dylan Hundley on the first drive of the game, the Redmen forced Clyde to go three-and-out. A false start penalty pushed the Redmen back to their own 17-yard line before going to work.

Ray picked up gains of 11 yards on consecutive rushes and later hit Jack Fitzgerald for a 15-yard pass. Ray pounded out eight yards on back-to-back and added a 10-yard pickup into the red zone. Ray hit Fitzgerald in perfect stride on a slant for a 14-yard touchdown. The extra point kick by Hunter Notke was good and the Redmen led, 7-0, with 5:18 left in the first quarter.

Clyde turned the ball over on downs on its next possession and it did not take the Redmen long to cash in. Holmer gained seven yards for a first down before Ray found Hay for a 17-yard pickup on 3rd-and-12.

After Holmer's three-yard run was the last play of the first quarter, Colton Ray gained just a yard, again bringing up a long third down. But, Keegan Ray scrambled and found a wide-open Fitzgerald, who then split two defenders around a block downfield and raced for a 36-yard score. Notke added the extra point just 36 seconds into the second quarter.

The Fliers finally put together a sustainable drive, using a heavy dose of a stout running game. But, Bellevue was there. After allowing a 4th-and-2 conversion, the Redmen stopped Farrar for a one-yard loss on a pass from Ryan Lozier, ending the drive on downs again.

The Redmen had a chance twice to add to its lead, but mistakes nearly proved to be costly. At the Clyde 23-yard line, Keegan Ray was intercepted by Nick Webb at the goal line, ending a nearly 40-yard drive.

The Fliers went three-and-out and Keegan Ray connected with Fitzgerald for a 17-yard pass into Clyde territory. But, Jack Morrison sacked Ray, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Devin Lee.

This time, Clyde did cash in as Lozier hit Golden for 22 yards on first down. After a short completion, Lozier found Evan Patynko a step past his defender for a 27-yard score. The extra point from Brock Newsome sliced the Bellevue lead in half at halftime.

"Those were absolutely missed opportunities," Nasonti said. "In a game like this, you can not worry about it and you can not hang your head. You try to stay positive. We had to keep battling."

The Redmen used the final 4:49 of a scoreless third quarter to methodically and slowly move the ball down the field. Two different times, Keegan Ray kept the ball on a designed quarterback run to convert 4th-and-1 situations. The first was a gain of 12 yards and the latter was a pickup of eight yards to the Clyde five-yard line. Three plays later, Keegan Ray scored from a yard out, but the extra point was off the upright, something that factored in the game later.

The Fliers did not wait long to respond. Lozier picked up 11 yards on first down and later hit Adam Koviak for 41 yards on 4th-and-7. Two plays later, Golden scored from two yards out, getting Clyde within 21-14 with exactly nine minutes left.

"The teams that have struggled with Clyde gave had a hard time in the box stopping the run," Nasonti said. "They are a good team and a strong team. They grind it out."

The Fliers nearly caught a huge break on the ensuing kickoff. With Farrar sidelined with a leg injury, Newsome handled the kickoff duties and his pooch kick appeared to be recovered by Patynko. After initially signaling Clyde ball, the referees gathered and awarded possession to the Redmen.

However, Clyde's defense stood tough and eventually forced a turnover on downs when Keegan Ray was stopped for a one-yard loss on 4th-and-2.

The Fliers took over and marched 78 yards in 11 plays, as Lozier's quarterback sneakn on 4th-and-goal, coupled with Newsome's third extra point put Clyde ahead, 21-20, with 1:54 left.

"It just ended up tonight that the pendulum swung our way," Nasonti said. "I am just happy for our kids because we had some heartbreaking losses this year. To play the No. 1 team in the region with Clyde coming in — this is the third year in a row we have beaten them. That is huge in a rivalry game. That means a lot to our coaches. That means a lot to our kids. This will make the off-season go a heck of a lot easier."

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