Bell runs over Hawthorne, earns first playoff berth

Senior standout Austin Ritchey ran for 217 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries to lead the Bulldogs to their first playoff berth in school history with a 52-14 win over Hawthorne in District 6-1A.

Brett Le Blanc/Correspondent
Published: Friday, November 1, 2013 at 7:18 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 1, 2013 at 7:18 p.m.

HAWTHORNE — Bell High School clinched its first playoff berth Friday night, running away for a 52-14 victory over Hawthorne.

The Bulldogs wrapped up their District 6-1A schedule with a 3-1 mark (7-2 overall), while the Hornets fell to 1-3 in district play and 2-6 overall.

The win secures Bell a state playoff berth by finishing as the district runner-up behind 4-0 (7-1) Trenton, which handed Bell its only district loss.

“We have a great group of seniors,” Bell coach Joey Whittington said. “This is their third year playing varsity now and they’ve matured and been great leaders to help us get to this point.”

Bell used a dominating ground game, racking up more than 500 yards rushing on 46 carries, a 10.93 yards per carry average.

Senior Austin Ritchey shouldered much of the load, running for a game-high 217 yards on 20 carries. He scored a touchdown and added five two-point conversions. Senior John Oslager was featured in the red zone, and scored three rushing touchdowns of his own.

Hawthorne went with the opposite offensive approach, but with much less success. Despite 363 yards on 51 passing attempts by senior J.T. Turner, the Hornets turned the ball over at costly times in the game. Turner threw two interceptions and the Hornets fumbled away a kickoff return.

Hawthorne coach Ellis Walker admitted it was tough to see Bell celebrate on his team’s home field, but was proud of the Hornets’ effort.

“It’s just one of those things, but we never gave up,” he said. “Now we have one more game, so I told them, ‘Let’s go out with a bang.’”

When asked if he wants another shot at Trenton, Whittington stressed the importance of only the next game.

“We have one more game against Branford, but if it happens, it happens,” Whittington said. “We’re just focused on our first playoff game.”

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