By CHUCK RIDENOUR
Daily Globe Sports Editor
While Devon ‘Shorty’ Brooks and Brennan Armstrong gain the yards and the notoriety, the two juniors know it all begins up front with the offensive line.
Thanks to the gaping holes created by their line, the duo combined to pile up 468 rushing yards as Shelby exited the Northern Ohio League in style by outdueling Bellevue 49-34 Friday night at William J. Wilkins Stadium at W.W. Skiles Field.
"Our offensive and defensive lines were fantastic,” summed up coach Erik Will as the Whippets played in their final NOL football game.
"When you put good football players behind a solid line, they know what to do with the football. To have Shorty run the way he did and Brennan run the way he did, it all starts at the line of scrimmage. But that offensive line, that’s the group,” said Will.
Brooks flirted with the 300-yard mark again, running for 295 and three touchdowns. His 67-yard gallop with 10:20 remaining in the first half snapped a 14-14 stalemate and put SHS ahead to stay. He also broke off TD runs of 65 and 33 yards as Shelby completed the NOL portion of their schedule at 5-1 and improved to 8-1 overall.
"The offensive line made it happen. When they’re blocking it’s hard to stop us. I’m thankful for that line,” said Brooks, who averaged 13.4 yards a carry in the win.
Armstrong racked up 173 yards on the ground. He also completed 7-of-11 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
Hunter Egner was on the receiving end of both TD passes, but it was the nine-yard strike less than three minutes into the third quarter that staked the Whippets to a two-touchdown advantage and put the Redmen in catchup mode the rest of the night.
"Our line was outstanding,” summed up Armstrong. "They gave Shorty and myself huge holes to run through.”
Shelby’s defensive line slowed the Redmen running game that came in averaging 264 yards and limited them to 157. Eventually the Redmen had to abandon their running game and put the ball in the air.
"Defensively, gave up 34, but what were they doing the last quarter and a half? They were throwing the ball and they didn’t want to throw the ball. We made them one dimensional,” said Will.
All totaled, the Hungry Hounds limited BHS to 371 yards in offense. Alec Foos was 19-of-33 passing for 214.
"Foos is a heckuva football player and they have a couple of nice athletes out there too. We just had to stay the course. When we got that stop, we knew we were in great shape,” said Will.
That stop came with 4:11 remaining and Bellevue trailing by 15, but Foos’ fourth-and-ten pass from fell incomplete and Shelby took over at their own 25. The hosts then exhausted the clock and advance the ball deep in enemy territory.
The game was a shootout at the start with Shelby striking first on their opening possession. Armstrong scored from four yards out and Uriah Gieseler booted the first of seven successful PAT kicks for a 7-0 advantage at the 9:22 mark.
Bellevue made it 7-6 three minutes later on a Bryce Ray 2-yard run, but the Whippets answered immediately. On their first play after receiving the kickoff, Brooks scooted 65 yards to make it 14-6 with 6:05 showing. The Redmen pulled even on a 34-yard pass from Foos to Joe Vogel and then Dakota McPeak snagged the two-point conversion from Foos to knot matters at 14-14 with 3:08 left in the opening period.
Brooks had the only score of the second quarter as Shelby grabbed a 21-14 halftime lead.
The Whippets took the second half kickoff and marched 80 yards with Egner hauling in the scoring catch from nine yards out at the 9:09 mark. He also collected a 10-yard pass from Armstrong with 21 second left in the third period to give Shelby a 42-26 lead. Egner had four catches for 50 yards. In between Brooks had a 33-yard scoring run.
The Redmen, who slipped to 3-2 in the NOL and 6-3 overall, stayed within striking distance during quarter No. 3 by getting TD runs of nine yards from Ray and one yard from Foos.
BHS closed to 42-34 with 9:51 left in the game on a five-yard pass from Foos to Ben Smith, but Shelby stretched the lead back out with a 24-yard TD run by Armstrong with 6:45 remaining.
Ty Hoffman led the defensive charge for the Whippets with 12 tackles. Hunter Bishop backed him up with eight while Egner, Brooks, Jared Rice and Derek Rose all had seven apiece.
Will described the victory as huge for his program.
"I have great respect for coach Nasonti and his program. Bellevue, in my opinion, the last 20-25 years has been the gold standard in the NOL. Let’s be honest, coach Nasonti has forgotten more about football than I know.
"For us to get a win in the last NOL football game... this is a game that will be talked about for a long time,” said Will. Shelby ends the NOL with a record of 326-159-11
The win inched the Whippets closer to a first-ever home playoff game in week 11. In the unofficial computer ratings by Joe Eitel (joeeitel.com), the red and gray were third in their playoff region as of late Friday night.
"It’s been a long time since we’ve had this kind of excitement and buzz. This is really cool,” said Will.
Shelby closes out the regular season next Friday at home against Loudonville. The Redbirds notched their first win of the season by bouncing Crestline 44-7.
At William J. Wilkins Stadium
at W.W. Skiles Field
Bellevue 14 0 12 8 -34
Shelby 14 7 21 7 -49
Shelby - Brennan Armstrong 4-yard run (Uriah Gieseler kick)
Bellevue - Bryce Ray 2-yard run (run failed)
Shelby - Devon Brooks 65-yard run (Gieseler kick)
Bellevue - Joe Vogel 34-yard pass from Alec Foos (Dakota McPeak pass from Foos)
Shelby - D. Brooks 67-yard run (Gieseler kick)
Shelby - Hunter Egner 9-yard pass from Armstrong (Gieseler kick)
Bellevue - Ray 9-yard run (pass failed)
Shelby - D. Brooks 33-yard run (Gieseler kick)
Bellevue - Foos 1-yard run (run failed)
Shelby - Egner 10-yard pass from Armstrong (Gieseler kick)
Bellevue - Ben Smith 5-yard pass from Foos (Treston Francis pass from Foos)
Shelby - Armstrong 24-yard run (Gieseler kick)
First downs 19 20
By rushing 7 14
By passing 9 5
By penalty 3 1
Rushing yards 157 468
Passing yards 214 118
Total yards 371 586
Passes (comp-att-int) 19-33-0 7-11-1
Penalties-yards 3-15 8-65
Punt-average 2-38.0 1-19.0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0