Belle Vernon routs Chartiers Valley behind methodical offense, staunch defense

Friday, September 3, 2021 | 11:42 PM

Belle Vernon Area couldn’t have scripted a better start for its Week 1 nonconference matchup against Chartiers Valley on Friday night.

The Leopards received the opening kickoff, and three minutes late, they were in the end zone after a nine-play, 80-yard drive.

BVA never looked back, racking up 388 yards and rolling to a 49-14 road win to start the season 1-0.

“We came out really strong tonight and didn’t have any rust early on,” BVA coach Matt Humbert said. “It was perfect for us tonight, but I liked how the kids got after it on both sides of the ball. I think we won the line of scrimmage and kind of imposed our will in the trenches.”

Devin Whitlock accounted for five touchdowns, had 133 rushing yards and went 9 of 11 for 128 yards passing. Quinton Martin added 73 yards and a score.

On the opening possession, the Leopards were balanced and methodically marched down the field until Whitlock broke loose for a 32-yard score at the 8-minute, 10-second mark.

“We wanted to play possession football and dictate things early on,” Humbert said. “We want to be greedy on offense this season and really possess the ball. Sure, I love those splash plays, but it was nice to see our offense march the ball down the field and a lot of guys contributed on the drive.”

After the Colts (1-1) were forced to punt on their first drive, BVA didn’t waste any time on its second drive.Whitlock connected with Chase Ruokonen for 17 yards, followed by a 48-yard sprint to the end zone to make it 14-0.

The only slipup for the Leopards’ offense was a fumble on its first drive of the second quarter, but the defense tightened up and forced a turnover on downs at the 43-yard line.

Martin got into the scoring spree later in the second quarter when he broke free for a 46-yard touchdown run.

The Colts finally got on the scoreboard on their next drive as Anthony Mackey faked a handoff and kept the ball down the left sideline for a 70-yard score.

BVA quickly responded as Martin returned the ensuing kickoff for a 95-yard score to dash any hopes of a Char Valley comeback in the first half.

Whitlock reached the end zone on a 1-yard keeper to end the scoring in the opening 24 minutes, and the Leopards carried a 35-7 lead into halftime.

It was more of the same for BVA to open the second half, as Whitlock ran for a 47-yard score then tossed an 8-yard pass to Tanner Steeber to increase the lead to 49-7 with 6:30 left in the third.

“I will never get tired of talking about Devin,” Humbert said. “He is electric on the football field. Tonight, Devin did the things he needed to do. He doesn’t need to be a human highlight reel. He managed the game and took his shots. He is a very intelligent kid, and he knows how to operate our offense.”

Char Valley produced the final score of the night on its next possession as Gavin Owens had a 2-yard touchdown run.

The Leopards outgained the hosts by a 388-223 margin. The BVA defense forced three turnovers and bottled up Mackey, who finished with 120 total yards, for most of the game in the backfield.

“The front seven was active tonight,” Humbert said. “Defensive coaches are really doing a good job with those kids. We just want to be more consistent and clean some things up. At the end of the day, they made the big stops and controlled their quarterback. We wanted to get the ball out of his hands and make their running backs run lateral behind the line of scrimmage.”

BVA hosts Penn Trafford next week in an excellent nonconference game. Char Valley, which defeated West Mifflin, 21-14, in Week Zero, travels to Keystone Oaks.

Watch an archived broadcast of this game on Trib HSSN.

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