Shawnee blanked by Bellefontaine; Chieftains claim share of title

Bellefontaine’s Dezmin Lyburtus runs the ball against Shawnee on Friday evening. MICHAEL COOPER/STAFF
Bellefontaine’s Dezmin Lyburtus runs the ball against Shawnee on Friday evening. MICHAEL COOPER/STAFF

After his team fell to Bellefontaine 35-0 on Friday night, Shawnee High School football coach Rick Meeks told his team just how difficult it can to win if you can’t take care of the football.

“I once read a statistic about turnovers: If you have four or more turnovers in a game, your team is likely to win about five percent of the time,” he said. “You can’t do it, especially against good teams.”

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The Braves had four turnovers in the loss, including three in the first half. Bellefontaine jumped out to an early 28-0 lead and never trailed, clinching at least a share of its third Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division championship in the last four years.

Chieftains senior quarterback Dezmin Lyburtus had three touchdowns, including two through the air and another on the ground, as Bellefontaine racked up 422 yards of total offense. Lyburtus, last year’s Kenton Trail offensive player of the year, went 7-for-12 for 141 yards, two TDs and an interception through the air. He also had 69 yards rushing on 12 carries and a score.

Bellefontaine sophomore running back Garrett Gross had 173 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries — an average of 8.2 yards per touch. Senior receiver Johnny Ganson also had two catches for 67 yards — both for touchdowns.

Shawnee moved the ball at times, but were inconsistent throughout the game, facing multiple third-and-long situations. Sophomore quarterback Robie Glass went 11-for-21 for 124 yards and an interception and rushed for a team-high 64 yards.

The teams traded fumbles to open the game, but Lyburtus found Ganson on passes of 23 and 44 yards to give Bellefontaine an early 14-0 lead.

Gross followed with touchdown runs of 9- and 6-yards in the second quarter to give the Chieftains a 28-0 lead.

Shawnee drove inside the five-yard line late in the first half, but a fumble on the goal line kept them out of the end zone. The Braves lost another fumble on the goal line late in the fourth quarter.

“They physically beat us up front,” Meeks said. “We were too inconsistent on offense and we had the turnovers on top of it.”

It was Bellefontaine’s second shutout in the last three weeks. They’ve allowed just 104 points this season and have held team to seven points or less five times.

“We have a lot of kids playing team defense who understand their roles and do their jobs,” Bellefontaine coach Toby Smith said. “That usually leads to good results.”

Shawnee fell to 4-4 and 1-1 in the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division. They travel to Jonathan Alder for a division game next Friday and finish the season at rival Tecumseh in Week 10.

“We’ll try to regroup and finish strong,” he said.

Bellefontaine improved to 7-1 and 3-0 in the Kenton Trail, clinching at least a share of the division title. They’ll win the title outright with a victory against Kenton Ridge in Week 10. The Chieftains host Indian Lake next Friday.

“We’re proud we’ve accomplished part of that (goal), but we don’t wanna share,” Smith said. “We’ve still got to finish our business (in the division).”