KETTERING, Ohio - The Belfry Pirates could not muster any offense against Division III Ohio football power Archbishop Alter this past Friday night as they fell by a final score of 14-0 at Fairmont's Roush Stadium.
The Pirates (2-1) knew going in that this would be a slug fest against the Knights, as they finished 13-2 in Ohio in 2018 and was the D III runner-up falling in the state title game. Things did not get any easier for Belfry when they lost start running back Isaac Dixon to an injury midway through the first quarter.
Even without Dixon, the Pirate defense held serve and shut down the Alter run game to take the game into the half tied up at zero apiece.
Coming out of the halftime locker room, it was clear that longtime Alter coach Ed Domsitz made some adjustments during the break as the Knights began to spread it out more on offense as opposed to their triple-option offense they mostly ran in the first half.
The move paid dividends for the Knights (3-0) as they scored the first touchdown of the game midway through the third quarter when quarterback Kale Steneman hit Patrick Conner for a 20 yard scoring strike. Jake Ruffolo's point after try was good and Alter took the 7-0 lead with 6:44 left in the period.
The score would prove to be all that the Knights needed to secure the win as coach Philip Haywood's club could never get any offense going against the front seven of Alter.
With the score still reading 7-0 and just over two minutes left in the game, Alter put the final nail in the coffin as Steneman found running back Branden McDonald on a short pass and he broke free for a 48 yard score. Ruffolo's kick was once again good to reach the final score of 14-0.
For the game neither team topped 200 yards of total offense as Alter finished with 192 total yards and Belfry only had 116. Alter ran the ball 29 times for only 57 yards as the Belfry defense stuffed the run game all night long but the Pirates offense was only able to gain 93 yards in the game on 39 carries.
Steneman finished 9-20 passing for 137 yards and two scores which proved to be the difference of the game. McDonald had four catches for 84 yards and a score while adding 13 carries for 36 yards on the ground.
Junior quarterback Brett Coleman was starting his first game under center this season for Belfry after missing the first two games with an illness and he struggled a bit only hitting on 5-10 passes for 23 yards and running nine times for only nine yards on the ground. Fullback Peyton Hensley was the lone bright spot as he churned out 77 yards on 20 carries in the middle of the field.
Senior playmaker Ben Bentley was bottled up all game only gaining four yards on seven carries while junior Isaac Dixon gained three yards on three carries before leaving with the ankle injury. Dixon is expected to be able to go against Pikeville Friday night.
The win for Alter improved them to 3-0 on the season. They will be making the return trip to Pond Creek next season as they signed a two-year deal with the Pirates back during the summer.
The loss for Belfry sees them dip to 2-1 as they return home this Friday night to play rival and undefeated Pikeville. This game is always one of the most looked forward to games on the schedule for both teams and will be the case once again this season. Pikeville enters play with a 4-0 record and ranked No. 1 in Class A. They are coming off of a 12-6 win last week at home against Raceland.
This will be the 72nd matchup all-time between the two football powerhouses with Belfry leading the all-time series 38-31-2. The Pirates have dominated the series in recent memory winning 17 of 18 games dating back to the year 2000. Coach Haywood, who is entering his 36th year at Belfry, has led the Pirates to a 27-8 record against their rival. Belfry won last years game at Pikeville by a final score of 36-21.
Prior to the game, Belfry High School will honor the 1979 state runner-up team which was the first Belfry team to make it to a state championship game. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. this Friday night at CAM Stadium.
Score by quarters
BHS (2-1): 0 0 0 0 - 0
AAHS (3-0): 0 0 7 7 - 14
AAHS: 20 yard pass Steneman to Connor (Ruffolo PAT good) 6:44
AAHS: 48 yard pass Steneman to McDonald (Ruffolo PAT good) 2:01
Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.