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PORT BYRON — After the St. Bede football team allowed Riverdale to nearly match it score for score in the first half of Friday’s Three Rivers Conference crossover game, the Bruins didn’t get mad or take offense.
Instead, they got defensive.
After a rough first half in which St. Bede struggled to slow the Rams offense, the Bruins defense tightened up in the second half as St. Bede shut out Riverdale over the final two quarters to secure a 48-18 victory.
“At halftime, we knew we needed to make a change so we switched to a little bit different style of defense,” SBA coach John Bellino said.
After the Bruins allowed 176 first-half yards, 18 first-half points and 10 first-half first downs, in the second half Riverdale lost nine yards, failed to score a point and managed just one first down, which was a 15-yard roughing the passer call early in the third quarter when the Bruins had forced a punt with a third-down stop.
After the Rams’ opening drive of the third quarter, the St. Bede defense forced three straight three-and-outs and then recovered a fumble before it forced the Riverdale reserves to turn the ball over on downs late in the fourth quarter.
“We knew coming in that they were tough and wanted to beat us,” St. Bede junior running back Justin Shaw said. “But we showed them our toughness tonight.” Shaw made sure of it.
The Bruins all-purpose back ran for two first-quarter touchdowns, added a second-quarter scamper and then found paydirt in the third quarter for his four rushing touchdowns.
He then added a 66-yard punt return in the fourth quarter to cap his five-touchdown night.
In all, he had 14 carries for 126 yards rushing and four TD runs and caught three passes for 35 yards.
“I’ve never had any game like this before,” Shaw said. “It just felt amazing to help my team win, and a big thanks goes to my offensive line for all the big holes.” Shaw was far from the only Bruin to ram Riverdale on Friday.
Senior fullback Michael Bellino ran for a career-high 124 yards and added a 1-yard touchdown, while junior quarterback Jack Brady was 11-for-14 for 168 yards and a TD pass to freshman receiver Braidy Shipp.
“Michael finally had a big game for us tonight,” John Bellino said of his son. “Give credit to the offensive linemen because we were just doing some simple dives and they were giving him room to run.”
The Bruins flexed their offensive muscle in the first half.
Shaw ran for a 30-yard touchdown on the first drive and then scored on a two-point conversion run to give SBA an 8-0 lead with 9:41 left in the first quarter.
After Riverdale went three-and-out, on the next Bruin drive Michael Bellino fumbled away possession to set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Riverdale’s Terry White that cut the SBA lead to 8-6 with 6:27 left in the opening quarter.
The Bruins came right back as Shaw ran for an 8-yard TD run to give SBA a 15-6 lead with 3:12 left in the first quarter, but Riverdale responded with a 10-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-10 to cut the Bruin lead to 15-12 with 58 seconds left in the first quarter.
The seesaw game continued in the second quarter as a 1-yard TD run by Bellino gave SBA a 22-12 lead with 10:34 left before half, but the Rams countered as they methodically marched down the field and White punched it in for a 14-yard touchdown that cut the Bruin advantage to 22-18 with 3:23 left before half.
With little time left before the break, St. Bede attacked and scored on Shaw’s 9-yard TD run that gave the Bruins a 29-18 lead at half.
After intermission, the Bruins defense tightened up and White left the game with an injury, while the St. Bede offense stayed hot.
Brady’s TD pass to Shipp gave SBA a 35-18 lead with 5:50 left in the third quarter, and in the fourth quarter Shaw’s 30-yard TD run and 66-yard punt return for a score capped the Bruins’ victory.
“Give Riverdale some credit, it was a track meet in the first half,” John Bellino said. “But we executed at times and did some things well. We were able to keep scoring.”
Note: Riverdale started the night with an 18-14 victory in the sophomore game.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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