Known primarily for its pound-it-out wing style running attack, it turned out to be, of all things a 50-yard touchdown pass that propelled Belen Jesuit to a big 13-7 win over archrival Monsignor Pace on Friday night at Pace High School.
Trailing 7-3, Belen quarterback Lucas Pola dropped back and found a wide open Diego Ortega down the middle on their first play of the second half. Ortega caught the ball at the Pace 10 and literally dragged a pair of Pace defenders into the end zone.
“We were talking at the half that if we closed the splits on the o-line, their defense would come up and we were right, they came right up and I was wide open and Lucas made a great throw,” said Ortega. “It was a big play that we really needed and it was for sure a big win tonight beating our rival.”
The Wolverines added a 22-yard Javan Rice field goal in the fourth quarter and then turned it over to the defense which dominated the Spartans offense all night long.
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Pace (4-4) had just 55 yards of offense before beginning its final drive, which ended at the Belen 38.
After decades of dominance by Pace, the win was Belen’s third consecutive in the series as coach Rich Stuart proudly held up the ceremonial Turkey Bowl trophy.
“Just a great game against a really tough quality team in Pace and the kind of game you need to get ready for the playoffs,” said Stuart whose team will host Palmetto in a first round playoff game at the school next Friday at 3 p.m. “We want to take this momentum now and hopefully carry it into next week.”
The only Pace score of the night came just two minutes into the game when Belen running back Don Chaney Jr., despite the disapproval from the Belen sideline that he was down, fumbled and Wilson, who also plays defensive back scooped up the loose ball and rambled 63 yards for a score.
Belen answered with a long drive that resulted in a Rice field goal to cut the deficit to four setting the stage for their big scoring pass that gave them the lead for good.