Lions blow out Roger Rams 23-0 in first football win of season

On Sept. 15, a brisk Thursday summer night, the Lions charged into Sparks Stadium expecting a win  and they fulfilled those expectations. The Lions, who have been struggling as of late, got their first win of the season, moving their record to 1-2. The Rams drop to 0-3, and have now been outscored 121-0 in three games. Bellarmine’s lights-out defense carried them to the win, with help from an improving offensive attack.

On the Rams first drive, Bellarmine’s defense started off strong forcing a three and out leading to great field position for the offense. One  couldn’t draw up the start any better as the Lions methodically conquered the opposing half of the field and finished with a Tyler Stowers quarterback run to give the Lions an early 6-0 lead.

After another three-and-out, the Rams reminded everyoen that having a good special teams is important for a winning football team. Unfortunately for them, their special teams was not strong, and their one yard punt helped give Bellarmine great field position, leading to a Joey Bambrick rushing TD.

In the second quarter, neither team was able to score, with Bellarmine pivoting to backup QB Dawson Hendrick. Rogers offense looked anemic all night, and both teams struggled to move the ball downfield in the second. Senior Lucas Kokich nearly scored a touchdown off of a 50 yard punt return, but a questionable block in the back called it back. The Lions took a 13-0 lead into half and didn’t look back.

In the third quarter, it was Stowers back at quarterback, and he showed why he is the starter by completing a beautiful pass to senior Will Schmitz, resulting in his first passing touchdown of the season. It was also Schmitz’s first touchdown of his Bellarmine career, and it gave the Lions a 20-0 lead. That lead could have grown even larger, as the Lions had a chance earlier that quarter to punch it in, but a fumble on the one yard line was recovered by the Rams.

Lions break from a huddle in the 3rd quarter. (Drew Albaugh)

By the fourth quarter, the game was effectively over. Chants of “I believe that we will win,” were echoing through the small but mighty Bellarmine student section, and the Lions were continuing to play shutdown defense. The Rams got life towards the end of the game, with a huge 4th down sack to give them great field position and a chance to score their first points of the season. Fortunately for the Lions, their defense held strong, and forced the stop. Bellarmine’s offense completed one last drive, with a 22-yard reception by Kokich setting up a 25-yard field goal from Jacob Hundven. Hundven went 1-2 on the night for field goals, and 2-3 on extra points. The first-year kicker now has two field goals on the season, and is 3-5 on PAT’s. The Lions lined up one last time in victory formation, and Bellarmine had their first win of the season.

For the defense, a combination of great tackling and big plays in big moments helped them complete the shutout performance. Kokich grabbed his second interception of the season, a pick in the Rams end zone that saved what could have been a touchdown. Senior corner Alex Quintanilla got the Rams QB with a sack to force a 4th down in the 3rd quarter. Dagim Heiser and Drake Johnston also combined for a sack to force 4th and 8. Junior Jackson Hallett also contributed with a key sack in what was his first game as a starter. Captains Dagim Heiser and Chris Carpenter led a strong core of linebackers, holding Rogers to under five first downs all night.

On the other side of the ball, no one was more impressive than senior wideout Lucas Kokich. His 7 receptions combined for 100 yards and proved his value as a playmaker, fighting for extra yards and making a spectacular diving catch in the 2nd quarter.

When asked about his performance Lucas said, “I feel good, getting the first win of the season.”

On the rushing side of the ball, it was Joey Bambrick who led the squad with 15 carries for 41 yards and his first touchdown of the season, averaging 2.7 yards per carry. A big part of Bambrick’s success was due to great offensive line play specifically by guard Gavin Ostrander who seemingly pummeled his opposition three feet into the ground just about every play.

When asked about the team fellow guard Mac Fortino said,  “We have so much room for growth and a lot of room for improvement. Excited to see what we can do next week against a good opponent.”

Also playing a great was game was starting quarterback Tyler Stowers. Stowers went a solid 9-12 with 126 passing yards and one touchdown. He also ran for 48 yards and a touchdown, leading the team this season with 3 rushing touchdowns. Backup QB, Sophomore passer Dawson Hendricks, got playing time as well, going 3-6 with 29 yards in his first appearance for the Varsity Team.

Overall the Lions came out, took care of business, and although the offense continued to look sloppy at times, and still is searching for an identity, they put points on the board when it mattered. The defense continued to play lights out and has proven they are one of the best units in the league. Bellarmine is now 1-2, with 6 games remaining, and has a +10 point differential.

Lions take a moment to pray after their win. (Drew Albaugh)

Next week the Lions host the Graham-Kapowsin Eagles, in what is expected to be one of the biggest games of the season. The Lions, now ranked #70 in the state, will hope for revenge against GK who is ranked fifth in the state, and shut out the Lions 41-0 last year. Bellarmine has shown upsets are possible earlier in the season, as they nearly upset Sumner and subsequently fell victim to being upset in the following week. The theme for the game is USA, and the Lions need all the support they can get, so show up, show out, and Go Lions!

Rogers and Bellarmine players shake hands after the game. (Drew Albaugh)
Seniors Chris Carpenter, Alex Quintanilla, and Dagim Heiser lead the team in the fight song. (Drew Albaugh)