PLATTEVILLE – Belmont’s senior quarterback Jacob Amenda threw for a touchdown and ran for two more scores- all in the second half- to rally the Braves to a 21-18 come-from-behind non-conference victory over North Crawford at the 11th annual Six Rivers Conference Jamboree at UW-Platteville’s Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 19.
Amenda, who ran for 119 yards and threw for 92 yards, put the Braves on top with a 2-yard touchdown run with 1:22 remaining in the game, and then sealed the victory less than a minute later with a leaping interception.
It was the first non-forfeit win for Belmont since Sept. 4, 2015, and the first earned victory for second-year co-head coaches Matt McKinley and Brandon Wiese.
“They showed a lot of heart. That was an awesome finish,” said McKinley. “We knew coming into the season that these guys were a team who were never going to quit. They definitely showed that today.”
The Braves (1-0 overall) had trouble sustaining drives on offense and stopping drives on defense in the first half, but through it all they only trailed 12-0 at the half as each team had just three possessions in the first 24 minutes of play.
North Crawford covered 92 yards in three plays on their opening drive to grab a quick 6-0 lead; and, after turning in a stout goal line stand where they stopped the Braves on three straight runs from the NC 1-yard line, the Trojans (0-1) marched 99 yards on 16 plays to go ahead 12-0.
Kenny Spencer, who ripped off an 87-yard run on the Trojans first play from scrimmage, capped the opening drive with a 3-yard TD run. Skyler Olson hauled in a 13-yard TD pass from John Volden on a 4th-and-11 play to strike pay dirt on the second drive.
“We told them at halftime that a couple of big plays is what beat us in the first half,” McKinley exclaimed. “We cleaned it up and played disciplined in the second half. We were also able to get their offense off the field, which was huge.”
The Trojans made a questionable decision to go for it instead of punting on a 4th-and-11 situation from their own 43-yard line early in the third quarter, and their ill-fated decision was compounded when they fumbled the ball over to the Braves on the play at the NC 35.
Four plays later, Amenda completed a short screen pass to Connor Wiegel– who had recovered the Trojan fumble– and Wiegel raced 14 yards into the end zone to put the Braves on the scoreboard. Amenda’s PAT cut the deficit to 12-7.
“We had faith in our guys to move the ball. The guys picked it up in the second half and finished the game strong,” commented Wiese.
Amenda gave the Braves their first lead of the day when he raced 55 yards for a score with 7:32 remaining in the game, but the Trojans answered right back with a 5-yard TD run by Greg Brown to regain the lead at 18-14 with 4:32 to go.
Belmont started their ensuing drive at midfield and needed eight plays to cover the 49 yards necessary for earn the go-ahead score. On 2nd-and-goal from the 2, Amenda bulled his way across the goal line to put the Braves on top once again.
The Trojans marched into Belmont territory with time ticking away, however Amenda’s athletic interception at the Belmont 25-yard line with 39 seconds to play secured the win for the Braves.
Belmont finished the day with 286 yards of total offense behind an offensive line consisting of two sophomores– Brady Wedig and Thomas Logsdon– and three freshmen– Riley Christensen, Mitchell Douglas and Michael Douglas.
C. Wiegel finished with six catches for 62 yards and four rushes for 26 yards on offense, while leading the team with four solo tackles and an assist. Mit. Douglas had five total tackles with two tackles for loss, while Wedig had three solo tackles with two TFLs and a sack. Christensen also had a sack for the Braves.
“They didn’t get many breaks the whole game. We pretty much had all the guys playing both ways all game long. They sucked it up and got it done. We haven’t had this type of heat in practice, so the guys weren’t used to it. These guys really dug in,” replied McKinley.
Belmont travels to Benton’s Swift Park to face Benton/Scales Mound (0-1, 0-1) in their Six Rivers Conference opener on Friday, Aug. 25. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Belmont…………. 0 0 7 14 – 21
North Crawford… 6 6 0 6 – 18
NC – Spencer, 3 run (pass failed)
NC – S. Olson, 13 pass from Volden (run failed)
Bel – Connor Wiegel, 14 pass from Jacob Amenda (Amenda kick)
Bel – Amenda, 55 run (Amenda kick)
NC – Brown, 6 run (pass failed)
Bel – Amenda, 2 run (Amenda kick)
Team Stats: First Downs– B 15, NC 14. Rushing– B 39-194; NC 31-187. Passing– B 9-10-0, 92; NC 7-13-70. Fumbles-Lost– B 0-0; NC 2-1. Penalties- B 9-70; NC 6-35.
Individual Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– Jacob Amenda, 24-119-2. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Jacob Amenda, 9-10-0-1, 92. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– Connor Wiegel, 6-62-1.