BENTON — For want of a yard, Belmont’s comeback hopes came up short. And, for want of a point, the Braves’ playoff hopes were dashed as well.
The playoffs unofficially started for both Belmont and Benton/Scales Mound last Friday night with each team needing a victory in their head-to-head match-up to keep their post-season dreams alive.
Unfortunately for Belmont, it will be the Zephyrs fighting for a playoff spot in the final week of the season after they edged the visiting Braves, 29–28, in a Six Rivers Conference shoot-out at Swift Park on Friday night.
“The boys played their hearts out. They played a great game,” said Belmont head coach Jason Weittenhiller, whose team will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Senior quarterback Jon Bahr, who was thought to be lost for the season after suffering a hip injury in victory over River Ridge in week three, returned to the starting line-up for the Braves and put some spark into his team, rushing for 186 yards and two touchdowns and throwing for another 163 yards in the loss.
“It seemed like getting Jon back was a spark for the team. They seemed to have a lot more hop in their steps tonight. He came back and played like a warrior,” added Weittenhiller. “While getting him back helped, we still had three starting offensive linemen out tonight, so we had a lot of guys out of place.”
Touchdown runs by Bahr (34 yards) and Raine Voigts (seven yards) in the second quarter put Belmont (2–6 overall, 2–5 SRC) ahead 12–7 with just under three minutes remaining in the first half, but a 4-yard scoring strike from quarterback Kyle Wienen to Jalen Phillips with 23 seconds left gave the Zephyrs (4–4, 3–4) a 15-12 halftime lead.
A 68-yard touchdown run by Bahr a minute into the third quarter put the Braves back on top 20-15, but Wienen answered 30 seconds later with a 6-yard TD run– his second of the night– to put the hosts back ahead at 21–20.
Belmont charged back with a nine-play, 69-yard scoring drive of their own to regain the lead on Nate Knebel’s 1-yard blast into the end zone. Bahr teamed with Quinn Cushman on the conversion to make it 28-21 in the Braves’ favor with 7:01 to play in the third quarter.
However, the Zephyrs had an answer once more, driving 67 yards in eight plays with Wienen connecting with Phillips on the duo’s second TD pass of the night to cut the deficit to 28–27.
Then, Wienen punched in a two-point conversion run to put BSM on top to stay at 29–28 with 3:10 left in the third.
The Zephyrs’ defense took over from there, limiting the Braves to just 39 yards over their final three possessions.
With time running down, Belmont faced a 2nd-and-1 from their own 36, but they failed gain the yard they needed to keep the drive- and their playoff hopes– alive.
The hosts took over at the Belmont 35 with two minutes remaining and ran out the clock to snap a four-game slide.
The Braves outgained the Zephyrs 391–326, with edges of 228–216 on the ground and 163–110 through the air, but they hurt themselves with six penalties for 60 yards and a pair of turnovers.
Voigts ran six times for 21 yards and a score and had two catches for 45 yards for the Braves, while Knebel ran 10 times for 17 yards and TD and Cushman led the team with four catches for 82 yards.
Defensively, Voigts led the way with 11 tackles and Cushman chipped in with nine stops. Connor Wiegel and Isaac Wiegel each had an interception, while Jacob Wedig registered a sack.
Belmont finishes off the regular season by traveling to Cassville on Friday, Oct. 16, to face the playoff-bound Comets (6-2, 5-2). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Benton/Scales Mound 29, Belmont 28
(from Friday, Oct. 12 @ Benton)
Belmont 0 12 16 0 — 28
Benton/SM 7 8 14 0 — 29
B/SM: Kyle Wienen 2 run (Aaron Coffey kick)
B: Jon Bahr 34 run (kick blocked)
B: Raine Voigts 7 run (run failed)
B/SM: Jalen Phillips 4 pass from Wienen (Phillips pass from Coffey)
B: Bahr 68 run (Quinn Cushman pass from Bahr)
B/SM: Wienen 6 run (run failed)
B: Nate Knebel 1 run (Cushman pass from Bahr)
B/SM: Phillips 16 pass from Wienen (Wienen run)
First downs — B 11, B/SM 15. Rushing — B 31-228, B/SM 43-216. Passing — B 8-21-1, 164; B/SM 8-20-2, 110. Fumbles–lost — B 2-1, B/SM 1-0. Penalties-yards — B 6-60, B/SM 1-5.
Rushing — B: Jon Bahr 12-186; B/SM: Kyle Pulvermacher 20-115. Passing — B: Bahr 8-21-1, 163; B/SM: Kyle Wienen 8-20-2, 110. Receiving — B: Quinn Cushman 4-82; B/SM: Jalen Phillips 4-64, Zac Stadel 3-50.