BELLAIRE - It's been said many, many times that a win is a win, no matter how it looks or happens.
Bellaire head coach Jose Davis bought into that theory Saturday afternoon as his Big Reds won their fifth straight game with a 28-15 decision over Harrison Central in Buckeye 8 action on a soggy Nelson Field.
It wasn't a masterpiece, but, according to Davis, it doesn't matter.
"It was sloppy ... sloppy," Davis admitted while shaking his head. "A win is a win though. As upset as I am with the way we played, we won. We took care of the business that we had too, and did what we had to."
With the victory, Bellaire (6-2) maintained a grasp on a home-field spot in Division VI, Region 21. The Big Reds were listed fourth entering their eighth game, but could possibly leap-frog Centerburg, which was in third at 8-0.
Harrison Central executed its defensive game plan to near perfection, but the Huskies continually shot themselves in the foot on offense. They came into the game wanting to shut down the Big Reds' high-powered offensive attack, which they did to a degree, but two fumbles and an interception inside the red zone led to the loss.
"I don't know what to do to correct them," Harrison Central head coach Justin Kropka said, referring to the costly turnovers. "I'm at a loss. We try to play conservative by running the ball, and we fumble it. We try to put it in the air, and we throw interceptions.
"I don't know how to correct it."
Bellaire took the opening kickoff and marched 69 yards on nine plays. Junior tailback Brandon Laughman capped the drive of 2:56 with a 1-yard burst for his first TD as a Big Red. Cody LaRoche was perfect on the first of his four PATs.
Things didn't start well for the Huskies as David Miser's second-down pass was picked off by Brendon Ross at the Harrison Central 32. However, Nate Olmstead pilfered a Spencer Badia pass two plays later at the 27.
The Huskies picked up one first down, but were forced to punt. The snap was low and Miser fumbled it while trying to scoop it up with LaRoche on his back. Eventually, Olmstead came up with the loose ball at the Harrison Central 20, but the ball went over on downs to the Big Reds.
Bellaire didn't waste any time in upping its margin as Badia hooked up with Ross on a 3-yard scoring strike. Ross was running from right-to-left in the middle of the end zone and caught the laser while sliding on his knees. LaRoche made it 14-0 with 3:43 on the first-quarter clock.
Harrison Central answered right back on the ensuing possession. Miser lobbed the ball downfield and Olmstead made a leaping grab at the 10, then spun away before making his way to the end zone. Geoff Pecar's placement cut the deficit in half, 14-7, with 2:10 on the clock.
Dalton Rutter stepped in front of a Bellaire receiver for an interception to put the Huskies back in business, but they were stymied by the Big Reds defense and forced to punt.
Starting at its own 46, it only took four plays to cover the distance as Badia rifled a bullet to Tyler West on an inside bubble screen. West, a 5-10, 160-pound junior, weaved his way across the field and down the left sidelines for a 37-yard scoring play. LaRoche made it 21-7 with 9:32 left in the half.
The Huskies kept the ball for nearly five-and-a-half minutes, driving deep into Bellaire territory, looking to cut into the margin once again. However, Travis Stenson was hit on first-and-goal from the 9, with Bellaire's Dom Vinka pouncing on the loose ball at the 7.
After a three-and-out by Bellaire, Harrison Central threatened again. The Huskies reached the Big Reds' 19, but a second-and-2 pass in the end zone for Olmstead was snatched away on an outstanding effort by Austin McConville.
"Mistakes are just killing us," Kropka noted. "They have in five or six games this season."
Harrison Central faced a fourth-and-1 from its own 45 on the first drive of the second half, but Miser's pass to a wide-open receiver was well short of the target.
"The play was there and there wasn't anyone within 20 yards of the receiver," Kropka lamented.
Bellaire made them pay as Laughman accounted for 35 of the 45 yards via the ground. He capped the 5-play march with a 5-yard sweep around right end.
Harrison Central recovered a Bellaire fumble deep in the Big Reds end of the field late in the fourth quarter. Freshman Tyler Carter bulled his way into the end zone from three yards out. He also ran for the two-point conversion to cap the scoring.
Badia went over the coveted 7,000-yard passing mark for his career at the 1:40 mark of the third quarter when he found classmate Nick Patrone on a 2-yard completion. That gave him 7,001, but a later pass for minus 3 yards left him at 6,998.
Laughman finished with 107 of Bellaire's 130 ground yards. Badia had 115 yards through the air. Kenny Hess had five receptions.
The Huskies actually outgained the Big Reds 259-245 as Miser had 129 yards on 10 of 25.
Bellaire takes to the road Friday night when it visits Morristown to battle Union Local. Harrison Central returns home to entertain Indian Creek.