BELMONT – It’s hard to tell who had the better night for Belmont on Friday– the Braves’ offense which rolled up over 430 yard of total offense and put up a season-high 40 points on the scoreboard or the Braves’ defense which held Cassville to just 42 total yards on the night.
Either way you lean, it added up to a big night on the gridiron as the Braves earned a key 40-6 Six Rivers Conference victory over the visiting Comets in their annual Fair Game held at BHS on Friday, Sept. 14.
“We played two great halves of football this week. We played four good quarters tonight,” noted Belmont head coach Jason Weittenhiller. “The defense played hard and put in a great effort. You couldn’t ask for more.”
Senior running backs Brandon Wedig and Jeremy Richardson combined for 331 total yards and each scored twice to lead Belmont, while freshman quarterback Jon Bahr added a new wrinkle to the Braves’ attack by completing 12-of-17 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns.
The Braves’ defense set the tone on Cassville’s opening drive, knocking the Comets (0-4 overall, 0-4 in SRC) back seven yards before forcing a punt.
The Braves (2-2, 2-2) would hold Cassville to negative yards on six of their first seven drives, and they wouldn’t allow a drive over nine yards until the Comets put together a 59-yard scoring drive midway through the fourth quarter.
Wedig got the offense rolling on the Braves’ first play from scrimmage when he raced 65 yards into the end zone to seemingly give the hosts a quick lead. His run was called back due to a hold, but it was just a preview of things to come.
Belmont marched right back down the field on that opening drive, covering 65 yards on 13 plays with Richardson pounding it across the goal line from two yards out to put the Braves ahead 6-0 with 2:47 to play in the first quarter.
Richardson added a 1-yard touchdown run on the Braves’ second possession and added a two-point conversion run to put the hosts on top 14-0 early in the second quarter.
After getting stopped in Cassville territory on their next two drives, the Braves found a way to punch in a key third score before the half and they did it in an unlikely way– with their passing attack.
Starting at their own 26 with 3:11 remaining in the half, the Braves took to the air. Bahr connected with five different receivers during the drive, going 5-for-6 for 56 yards including a 16-yard scoring strike to Wedig with 35 seconds to go that put the hosts up 20-0 at the break.
Bahr teamed with fellow freshman Raine Voigts for another 16-yard TD pass on Belmont’s opening possession of the second half, and Belmont’s Fair King, junior Kyle Van Bogaert, added to the Braves’ lead with a 78-yard punt return for a TD with 8:47 left in the third quarter that made it 34-0.
Wedig hit paydirt again before the end of the third period to up the Belmont lead to 40-0. One play after having a 21-yard TD called back due to another holding penalty, Wedig scored from 26 yards out on the very next play– and the very same play– to turn on the continuous clock.
Cassville avoided the shutout late in the game when they put together their only sustained drive against the Braves’ back-ups. Dallas Esser capped a four-play, 59-yard scoring trek with a 19-yard TD run for the Comets.
Prior to that drive, the Comets were stuffed for minus-24 total yards by the swarming Belmont D, and they had not gained a first down. Cassville ended the night just 42 total yards to Belmont’s 435, and they gained just one first down to the Braves’ 19.
Belmont finished with 308 yards on the ground led by Wedig, who gained 214 yards on 19 carries. Richardson also ran 12 times for 81 yards and two scores.
Through the air, the freshman connection of Bahr-to-Voigts produced 81 yards on six completions with a score.
“We haven’t been able to throw the ball here for a few years. It gives us a nice, new weapon,” Weittenhiller commented about his budding young players. “It’s going to be fun watching these guys the next few years.”
Wedig had two catches for 23 yards and a TD and Richardson added one catch for 13 yards.
Richardson also had 13 tackles to led the defensive unit. Lucas Stoney chipped in with nine tackles, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt, while Mitch Ray added eight tackles, a sack and a pass deflection.
Belmont hosts Pecatonica/Argyle (3-1, 3-1) in a key Six Rivers Conference contest on Friday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m.
Cassville… 0 0 0 6 - 6
Belmont…. 6 14 20 0 - 40
Bel – Jeremy Richardson, 2 run (kick failed)
Bel – Richardson, 1 run (Richardson run)
Bel – Brandon Wedig, 16 pass from Jon Bahr (run failed)
Bel – Raine Voigts, 16 pass from Bahr (kick failed)
Bel – Kyle Van Bogaert, 78 punt return (Wedig run)
Bel – Wedig, 26 run (pass failed)
C – Esser, 19 run (run failed)
Team Stats: First Downs- C 1, B 19. Rushing- C 30-67; B 42-308. Passing- C 2-9-0, 0; B 12-17-1, 142. Fumbles-Lost- C 1-1; B 3-1. Penalties- C 4-30, B 5-25.
Team Individual Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)- Brandon Wedig 19-214-1; Jeremy Richardson 12-81-2. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)- Jon Bahr, 12-17-1-2, 142. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)- Raine Voigts, 6-81-1; Wedig 2-23-1.