BELMONT – Cleveland East Side hung in the game with Belmont most of the night in their Class 3A second-round playoff game.
However in the fourth quarter, an unsuspected name sealed the deal for the Cardinals at Earl Alexander Field.
Alexander Fancher’s first carry of the night went for a 25-yard touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter to secure the Cardinals’ 49-26 win over the visiting Trojans.
“The guy in front of me on the offensive line opened a big hole, and I ran through it,” the Belmont sophomore said after his team’s huddle broke at the 50-yard line.
Fancher’s carry capped another huge night rushing for the Cardinals, who will travel to face the Daily Journal’s top ranked 3A team next week in Aberdeen.
Belmont rushed for 358 yards total on the night, led by the Cardinals’ big three of Jordan Powell (13 carries, 150 yards), Cody Sartain (17 carries, 105 yards), and Dustin Poole (15 carries, 76 yards).
“Jordan, Dustin, and Cody did a great job, and Alexander Fancher stepped in there at the end,” said Belmont head coach Kerry Moody. “We kept moving the football and the play there at the end (Fancher’s run) turned the momentum of the game.”
Cleveland East Side did do one thing no opponent has done to Belmont (12-0) through its first eleven games – hold a lead.
The Trojans (10-3) led 8-7 after the first quarter after Tavares Johnson hit Khiry Lucas on a 7-yard touchdown pass and Jamarcus Walker’s two-point conversion run.
However, East Side’s lead did not last long.
Belmont – the Daily Journal’s second ranked 3A school – outscored East Side 21-2 in the second quarter to take a lead they would not lose.
In that quarter, Powell scored twice (runs of 38 and 25) and Kase Smith hit Sartain on a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Belmont, who led 28-10 at halftime, scored its first touchdown of the second half on a one-yard run by Poole, hit only touchdown of the game.
Sartain added to Belmont’s lead in the fourth quarter with a five-yard run that capped a four-plus minute drive.
Johnson and Lucas connected for two more scores in the second half on touchdown passes of 11 and 12 yards to bring East Side within 42-26, before Fancher put the game on ice.
Johnson finished the game 16-of-26 passing for 176 yards while Laquavious Jones led the Trojans running attack, toting the ball 12 times for 84 yards.
Moody was quick to thank others for their part in his team’s success thus far this season.
“Hats off to these assistant coaches and these players all around,” Moody added, ” The community support has been great, and we’re getting to play another four quarters.”
Sartain scored his first of three touchdowns on a 2-yard run after Austin Ramsey recovered an East Side muffed punt halfway through the first quarter to give Belmont an early 7-0 lead.
East Side added a safety in the second quarter blocking a Belmont punt out of the back of the end zone.
Blake Long/Special to the Journal