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Daily Herald's 2016 Season Coverage
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updated: 8/26/2016 11:54 PM

Batavia picks up W at Belleville West

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By David Wilhelm
Special to the Daily Herald

BELLEVILLE -- Batavia's rushing game came as advertised.

The Bulldogs registered 410 total yards, 360 of them on the ground, and defeated Belleville West 34-24 on Friday in the season opener for both teams.

The game was delayed by lightning for one hour.

Ben Weerts scored 2 touchdowns and Reggie Phillips, Dana Anderson and Matt Huzuinga scored 1 apiece.

Batavia led just 7-3 in the fourth quarter, but with both teams' defenses running on fumes, there were 48 points scored in the final nine-plus minutes.

"We have a good passing game and we know that, but we're coming down here opening up and I've got a lot of new faces and a lot of new kids," Bulldogs coach Dennis Piron said. "The one thing we did have was a senior-laden, big offensive line.

"We just felt like we didn't want to make a lot of mistakes. We wanted to make sure we do what we've got to do. I feel really good about where we're at with our running game."

West amassed 208 yards in the fourth quarter. Kristopher Davis scored 3 touchdowns in the period, but it wasn't enough to cut into the Bulldogs' big lead.

"We worked really hard," Davis said. "We're not going to give up. That's a really good team right there we just lost to. My offensive line blocked great for me."

Phillips led the Bulldogs' rushers with 22 carries for 140 yards, with his touchdown covering 20 yards. Weerts set the tone with Batavia's first two scores, from 2 yards and 9 yards, as it grabbed a 13-3 lead with 9:44 to play in the game.

"I give all the credit to my line," Weerts said. "They did a great job today. I knew our game plan going in was a power game, and we executed well, I think."

Weerts was a little concerned down the stretch as Davis found huge holes at the line of scrimmage and helped the Maroons rally to within 27-17 and 34-24.

But after the Maroons recovered an onside kick, their third such attempt, the offense ran out of time and Batavia, ranked third in the Class 7A poll, celebrated the win.

"Near the end, they got a couple of touchdowns, but we stayed confident. We knew we were going to win the game," Weerts said. "It's just a great start. We faced adversity, the whole team, but we pulled through."

After West got within 19-9 on Davis' 1-yard touchdown run, Anderson had perhaps the biggest play of the game when he broke free for a 52-yard run that made it 27-9.

Davis countered with a 54-yard touchdown run and Sherond Boyd added a 2-point conversion run to make it 27-17, but Huizinga followed with a 29-yard score to make it 34-17 with 2:39 to play. That essentially sealed the outcome.

"We've got a lot of weapons," Piron said. "I'm proud of that. The ability to run it when people know you're going to run it should open a lot of stuff up for our passing game and our play-action game as we go. The objective was to come down here and come away with a 'W.' It wasn't easy with the delay. We had to keep our minds right. I'm really proud of the kids."

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