LEWISTOWN - It was as close as any championship game could get.
Holding onto a 19-18 lead going into the final four minutes Sunday at Mitchell Field in Lewistown, the Belleville defense knew if it was going to come out with the victory over rival Midd-West Black it would have to hold one last time.
With the ball deep in Lions territory with minutes left, the defense didn't just hold its ground but forced its opponent backward and to eventually turn the ball over on downs, securing Belleville its second Central Keystone Football League midgets championship in as many years.
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
Belleville’s Levi Wise, right, runs the ball as Midd-West’s Mark Piccione misses the tackle Sunday during the Central Keystone Football League’s Midget Championship game at Mitchell Field.
Leading the way for the Lions was the stellar running by Levi Wise. Wise scored all of his team's touchdowns and blazed his way through the Midd-West defense for a better-than-200-yard effort.
"It was a good game. This was a rebuilding year for us. We kind of got gutted at the end of the season last year. All our talent left so we've been the underdogs all season," Lions coach Reed Henderson said. "Everybody else was always bigger, stronger or faster but these kids played their hearts out the last part of the season. We are playing the right football at the right time of year. It was really nice to see these kis get another championship back to back."
After a scoreless first quarter, Belleville got on the board close to the intermission thanks to a 41-yard scamper by Wise as he was able to turn the corner and outrun the Mustang defense. However, the PAT was unsuccessful.
As the second quarter began to wind down into the final minute, the Mustangs were able to tie the game before the half.
Timmy Snook broke through the Belleville secondary and rolled to a 65-yard touchdown, knotting the game at 6-6 at the half.
"I have never been more proud of a group of kids," Midd-West coach Dustin Testerman said. "I want to give Belleville credit - their coaches are good. That was probably the best team we played all year. I was glad we got to play them. I just wish the outcome would have been different. The kids put their heart and soul in the game and I am proud of them."
Midd-West came out firing in the third quarter, taking a short-lived lead in the game via its air attack. Snook found a wide open Timmy Hackenberg mid-stride for a 51-yard touchdown. Once again the Lions defense made a clutch play, holding the Mustangs without another PAT, making it 12-6 with 5:43 left in the third.
Three plays later, Wise was given the nod as he broke loose on a 59-yard run, tying the game with 4:37 to go in the third. Wise also was successful on the PAT as he raced around the end, taking a 13-12 lead.
After holding the Mustangs on their next possession, the Lions handed it off to Wise once again. Wise took the first touch from scrimmage and tallied score No. 3. This time Wise scored from 39 yards out. With the PAT stuffed by the Midd-West defense, the Mustangs were only a touchdown and extra point from tying the contest as the game headed into the final stanza.
In the fourth, the Mustangs went on a long sustaining drive feeding the ball to the tandem of Aaron Rhone and speed back Mark Piccione. Rhone finished with a 70-yard rushing effort on the day.
It took 16 plays, but Piccone muscled it in from five yards out, making it a one-point game with an important PAT at hand.
However, Belleville's defense clamped down and held onto the lead, one it would not relinquish.
The McVeytown cheerleading team took top honors in this year's Central Keystone Football and Cheer Competition.