HENRIETTA TWP. — When Wellington and Firelands took the field Friday night for a Patriot Athletic Conference Stars game, they knew one team would walk away with its first win of the season. Chase Bealer made sure it was the Dukes.
The senior running back had three first-half touchdowns and led his team with 86 yards on the ground as Wellington defeated the Falcons 35-0.
Wellington (1-8, 1-5) took advantage of five Firelands turnovers to score touchdowns on its five first-half possessions en route to its best scoring output of the season.
“It’s been a really tough year for us, obviously not what we wanted. This one win makes all the difference,” Bealer said. “As a team we were mad about losing. It all came down to heart and not giving up.”
Bealer had touchdown runs of 2, 9 and 1 yards on drives that started when the Dukes forced turnovers.
Senior defensive back JuJuan Howard halted the first Falcons drive when he intercepted a Brad Thrasher pass and returned it 54 yards to the 22-yard line. On the second play of the second quarter Howard recovered a fumble to set up an 11-play, 57-yard scoring drive.
“There is a lot of pressure off of our shoulders now,” Howard said. “We lost quite a few games in a row there, but this will lift the spirits of everyone in the locker room. I am ecstatic that I could help give this team the win that it needed to boost our confidence not only for next week but also to build some positive momentum for the guys coming back for next season.”
The Dukes nearly added to their lead on the opening possession of the second half but Jacob Kakos, who scored on an 8-yard first-quarter run, fumbled on the goal line. Firelands defensive back Fabian Melendez recovered the ball in the end zone to give the Falcons the ball on the 20.
Firelands (0-9, 0-6) then embarked on its best drive of the game, keeping the ball for 12 plays and 6:01 before turning over the ball on downs at the Dukes 25. Freshman wide receiver Colin Myers had a big game in a losing effort, catching three passes for 112 yards.
“I’m proud of our kids that they showed character over the past nine weeks. This is a big win for everyone on this team,” Wellington coach Matt Stoll said. “This sure feels a lot better than a loss. These kids worked too hard to be 0-10. This just changes everybody’s attitude for the next week. I know my wife is going to appreciate this. I am going to be more pleasant to be around this weekend now.”
Back to Basics: Wellington went back to what it likes to call “Dukes football,” running the ball 49 times for 273 yards while throwing the ball only twice.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.