With both Istrouma and Belaire high schools coming into the game 0-4, one team was finally going to get in the win column Friday night at Tac Jackson Field.
Unfortunately for Istrouma, the Indians came up short on their homecoming night as the Bengals pulled out a 26-14 victory.
“This is a great step for our program,” first-year Belaire coach Jason Wilkins said. “We were able to come into a hostile environment and get a great win. Hopefully we can go up from here.”
Belaire was able to find open space against the Indians defense all night, racking up 272 total yards. Senior quarterback Jarvis York had most of it with 107 yards on the ground and 72 through the air.
“York was tough to contain,” Istrouma coach Johnny Felders said. “We had no answer for him on defense.”
Istrouma’s first drive of the game saw the Indians’ offense lose 5 yards on a quick three-and-out. A punt gave Belaire the ball at the Istrouma 21 and was pushed back 5 yards on a false start penalty.
Sophomore running back Joshua Coleman then took an end-around handoff from York and scampered 26 yards for a quick touchdown.
York made it 8-0 in favor of the Bengals with a successful quarterback sneak on the two-point try.
The Bengals’ ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving Istrouma good starting field position. Thanks in large part to eight carries for 47 yards by junior Alexander Thomas, the Indians drove 65 yards with Thomas plowing his way into the end zone from 2 yards out for Istrouma’s first points of the night.
Thomas finished the game with a team-high 88 rushing yards on 22 carries.
“He was the only thing we really had going for us on offense,” Felders said. “We were afraid that we would tire him out by the third quarter.”
The Belaire defense stood tall on the two-point conversion and stuffed Thomas to keep an 8-6 lead.
Istrouma handed the Bengals two more points when a bad snap sailed over the head of punter Darrell Nettles and out the back of the end zone for a safety.
Getting the ball right back, Belaire jumped out to an 18-6 lead with more than nine minutes to go in the first half on a 17-yard run by Gerome Simpson.
Istrouma answered with a drive that consumed more than seven minutes and ended with quarterback Marquise Kaigler falling into the end zone from one yard out on fourth down.
The two-point try was good on a run by Thomas to put the score at 18-14 in favor of Belaire going into halftime.
“We had them right where we wanted them there,” Felders said. “We overcame some mistakes and pulled within a touchdown and we felt like we could win this game.”
Belaire played the role of wet blanket in the second half as it took the opening kickoff back to midfield.
From there, York went to work again. After converting a third-and-long with an 18-yard scramble, York found Springer for a 15-yard touchdown reception.
“Our offense goes as he goes,” Wilkins said of York. “He is a dynamic player in our offense and he showed that tonight.”
Springer converted the two-point conversion to put Belaire up by 12 points. With five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Istrouma drove down to the goal line, but the Belaire defense held them out to clinch the game.