Fourth-quarter rally lifts Badin over Bellbrook in regional final

Rams advance to state semifinals for first time since 1998

TROTWOOD – Trailing 9-0 with 10:30 left to play in Friday’s Division III, Region 12 final against Bellbrook, Badin got a lift from an unlikely source.

A back-up who hadn’t thrown a pass all season, sophomore quarterback Alex Ritzie engineered two late touchdown drives, the last capped by Jack Walsh’s 13-yard touchdown run with 40 seconds to go for a 14-9 lead, as the Rams rallied to beat Bellbrook 21-9 at Trotwood’s Miami Valley Hospital Sportsplex. Ritzie replaced starter Landyn Vidourek who was hampered by a hand injury.

Badin (13-0) advances to the state semifinals for the first time since 1998 and will face Granville, a 57-49 winner over Western Brown, at a site to be announced Sunday by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

Bellbrook (11-3) drops to 0-3 in regional finals (also lost in 1991 and 2001).

“It was a surprise,” Ritzie said. “I’ve been taking reps in practice and I have to thank the coaches, they’ve been getting me ready all week for something like this.

“Right after halftime they said be ready. When they called my name, I was like ‘Wow, it’s go time.’”

“Landyn was a little banged up and we didn’t want to just throw a sophomore out there, but Alex is a heck of an athlete and he wasn’t fazed,” Badin head coach Nick Yordy said. “He stepped up in the moment and did a helluva job. I’m proud of him.”

Credit: Name Test

Credit: Name Test

Like the first meeting this year, a 17-7 Badin win in Week 2, the contest was a grinder.

Bellbrook forced two first half turnovers and held a 3-0 halftime lead thanks to Conner Peh’s 42-yard first quarter field goal. Nick Etienne’s 20-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter pushed the Eagles’ advantage to 9-0.

On the ensuing possession Ritzie entered and led the Rams on a 75-yard drive that he capped with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Braedyn Moore.

Following a Bellbrook punt, Badin attempted a 35-yard field goal with 1:19 to play, which was no good. The Eagles, however, were whistled for running into the kicker, which resulted in a Rams first down. Two plays later Walsh ran in for the winning score.

“It was an aggressive play,” Bellbrook head coach Jeff Jenkins said. “The game was on the line. Tough call to make.”

Credit: Name Test

Credit: Name Test

Badin’s Carson Cheek returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown with 13 seconds left for the final margin of victory.

“At this level you have to be at your absolute best,” Jenkins said. “We made some mistakes late and it cost us.”

“At halftime we told the kids that it was just a 3-0 game and to stay the course,” Yordy said. “That touchdown they scored hurt, but I think blocking that extra point gave us a little life. We came down, got a touchdown and got things rolling.”

Bellbrook running back Seth Borondy, who set the program’s single-season rushing record last week, finished with 131 yards on 33 carries. His 2,744 rushing yards this season ranks 27th for a single-season in state history.

Both teams featured stellar senior classes.

Bellbrook has won three Southwestern Buckeye League titles and 37 games over the last four years. Badin has won 38 games and four straight Greater Catholic League Co-Ed championships.

“They’re on a helluva run,” Yordy said of his seniors. “I’m just thankful we get another week. Practice on Thanksgiving…there’s nothing better than that.”

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