JACKSON - It was a rough Homecoming afternoon for the Belhaven football team on Saturday at H.T. Newell Field. The Blazers ran into 20th ranked Lindsey Wilson College (KY) and fell 49-15 in a Mid-South Conference cross divisional contest. The Blue Raiders scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to pull away for the victory.
As has been the case a number of times this season, Belhaven (2-6) gave the opponent all they could handle in the first half. That scenario played out again on Saturday with the Blazers taking a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Belhaven's defense stood strong against the Lindsey Wilson (6-2) offense on its first drive of the afternoon. The Blazers stopped the Blue Raiders at the four yard line and a field goal from 21 yards out by Mark Corbett sailed wide right to end the drive.
Belhaven took over on its own 20 yard line and went 80 yards on 12 plays to find the end zone for the first time. On third and goal from the nine yard line, quarterback Ian McGinnis went up top and found wide receiver Justin Kenyon in the end zone for the score. The extra point by Kyler Ainley was blocked to keep it a 6-0 game.
On the ensuing possession, the Blue Raiders answered right back to grab their first lead of the afternoon. Quarterback Branden Cresap moved the ball down the field with his arm and his legs to setup up running back Rome Cotton's six yard touchdown run. It would be the first of Cotton's three rushing touchdowns in the game and with extra point; Lindsey Wilson went in front 7-6 with 3:16 to play in the first quarter.
Lindsey Wilson maintained the edge until midway through the second quarter when a fumble by Cresap gave the Blazers the ball inside Blue Raider territory at the 23 yard line. Defensive lineman Rico McCullum sacked Cresap and in the process jarred the ball loose where it was picked up by Jeremiah Beck. Unfortunately, Belhaven could only move the ball 15 yards, but it was enough to get Ainley in range for a 25 yard field goal, giving the lead back to the Blazers at 9-7.
Lindsey Wilson got back on track and scored the next 14 points in the second quarter. The Blue Raiders answered the field goal with a seven play 65 yard scoring drive. Cotton had runs of 30 and 18 yards, scoring on the latter to send Lindsey Wilson back in front 14-9. The defense then forced a fumble on a carry by Aaron Spikes which led to a 24 yard touchdown pass from Cresap to Akio Tonge. The extra points extended the lead to 21-9 with 2:55 to play in the half.
With the game on the verge of getting out of hand, McGinnis kept the Blazers in striking distance with a late second quarter drive. McGinnis scrambled around multiple Lindsey Wilson defenders and found Lamiquell Roberts in the end zone from 25 yards out for a Belhaven touchdown as time expired in the first half. Two crucial personal foul penalties by the Blue Raiders helped extend the drive and set up the score. The two point conversion failed and Belhaven went into the locker down 21-15 at the break.
Unfortunately, it would be all Lindsey Wilson in the second half. The Blue Raiders started their string of 28 unanswered points with 6:15 to play in the third on a 21 yard touchdown pass from Cresap to Cotton.
Belhaven was forced to punt on the ensuing possession and on 2nd and 11 from the Lindsey Wilson 26 yard line, Head Coach Chris Oliver dialed up a wide receiver pass that caught the Blazers off guard. Chris Dobbins took a pitch from Cresap and found wide receiver Matt Powers open down the right sideline for a 74 yard touchdown pass.
Leading 35-15, Lindsey Wilson kept rolling with two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Cotton scored his fourth touchdown of the day and third rushing, on a 41 yard jaunt down the field at the 14:40 mark. The final seven points were posted when backup quarterback Jake Tieken powered the ball over the goal line from three yards out to cap the scoring with 6:46 to play. The 49-15 lead held up for the remainder of the fourth quarter.
McGinnis completed 17 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Belhaven offense. Spikes had 69 yards on 13 carries and Kenyon caught three passes for 19 yards and a touchdown. Roberts pulled down two passes for 35 yards with one going for six points. Belhaven ended the game with 316 yards of total offense.
Darius Wren continued his dominance on the defensive side of the ball. The senior made a game high 13 tackles with 1.5 tackles for a loss. McCullum had a solid game up front with six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
Cotton stole the show offensively for the Blue Raiders with 223 all purpose yards. Cotton carried the ball 16 times for 189 yards and three scores. In addition, Cotton caught three passes for 34 yards and one more touchdown. Cresap connected on 15 passes for 160 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Powers led the receiving corp. with 82 yards and a TD on two receptions. Lindsey Wilson ended the game with 548 yards of total offense.
The Blue Raider defense sacked McGinnis four times with Andrew Wahl and Sam Mapa getting to the quarterback two times apiece. Corey Lillard and Michael Brooks each had eight tackles.
The Blazers will play their final home game on Saturday when they host Faulkner University in a MSC West Division contest at H.T. Newell Field. The kickoff is slated for 1:30 PM.
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