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Belmont senior accounts for 250 yards and 6 TDs in season-opening win
Riley Christensen
Belmont senior quarterback Riley Christensen drags a tackler into the end zone for his third touchdown run of the nights during the Braves' 45–14 victory Friday over visiting Neenah St. Mary Catholic.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.

Riley Christensen, Sr., QB/LB, Belmont football

BELMONT – The season itself may have gotten off to delayed start, however the Belmont Braves football team started off fast in their 2020 opener.

The Braves scored two touchdowns in their first three offensive plays to build up a 16–0 lead just four minutes into the game, and then kept piling it on from there en route to a 45–14 victory over Saint Mary’s Catholic in an 8-player prep football game held at Belmont High School.

Senior quarterback Riley Christensen threw for 123 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 131 yards and another three scored to carry the Braves (1–0) past the Zephyrs (0–1).

Zephyrs’ head coach Jeremy Clifton took a huge gamble early on when he opted not to punt the ball away on 4th-and-9 from his own 32. Belmont senior Mitchell Douglas sacked Zephyrs’ QB Owen Swanstrom for a seven-yard loss on the play to hand the Braves the ball at the Zephyrs’ 25. Two plays later, Christensen teamed with junior Waylon Palzkill for a 20–yard TD strike to put the hosts ahead for good. Palzkill also punched in a two-point conversion run to make it 8–0.

After a quick three-and-out, the Braves got the ball right back at the Zephyrs’ 34 and needed just one play to find pay dirt again as Christensen ripped off a TD run on the first play from scrimmage. Junior John Burbach’s conversion run put the hosts up 16–0 with 7:59 remaining in the first quarter.

Christensen scored again from four yards out on a fourth-and-goal run with 3:39 to play in the half to extend the lead to 22–0 after John Burbach's interception set Belmont up deep in St. Mary Catholic territory.

Christensen hooking up with Palzkill on a 31-yard scoring strike with 18 seconds remaining. Palzkill’s conversion run put the Braves up 32–0 at the intermission.

He also connected with sophomore Noah Fritz on a 18-yard touchdown pass and he booted the extra point to make it 39-0 with 6:44 to go in the third quarter, and then he tacked on a seven-yard TD run on another fourth-down play with 35 ticks remaining in the stanza to cap the Braves’ scoring at 45–0. Christensen also finished with five tackles in the game.

“After our start, it took a little while to get going again, but we got where we needed to go in the second quarter and carried it into the second half," said Belmont head coach Brandon Wiese. "There are some things we’re still trying to implement in the offense, so we had to see how it would work out on the field. We also rotated a bunch of guys in there in different areas. There are some things we’ll do better next week.

“We have a good group of guys surrounding Riley. Our offensive line up front is tough. We feel confident with these guys running the offense."

Belmont’s Week 2 road game at Elkhart Lake–Glenbeulah (1-0) scheduled for Friday, Oct. 2, has been postponed due to a COVID-19 concern at BHS. Belmont schools were shut down for in-person classes Monday and all sporting events for this week have been postponed.

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