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Falcons hold off Chrisman's furious comeback

By Michael Smith
The Examiner

With the way the Van Horn and William Chrisman football teams were moving the ball on Friday night, it seemed like no lead was safe.

Even when Van Horn freshman running back Lamonte Belshe ripped off an 88-yard touchdown run midway through the third period to give the Falcons a 42-16 lead, it never seemed like Chrisman was out of it.

That’s because the Bears moved the ball easily on the Van Horn defense, but squandered opportunities in Falcons’ territory with penalties and fumbles. However, the Bears scored 21 unanswered points to cut the Van Horn lead to 43-37, with the last TD – set up by a Van Horn fumble – coming on a 4-yard run from junior running back Kameron Thompson with 2:36 left.

Chrisman tried an onside kick but it went out of bounds and Van Horn iced it with Belshe’s 11-yard run on third-and-5. The Falcons were able to kneel out the rest of the clock to hold off a furious Bears comeback.

“Van Horn did a great job tonight, but we stopped ourselves a couple of times, too,” Chrisman coach Matthew Perry said. “We made mistakes like lining up wrong. If we take care of that, it might have been a different game.”

Belshe was a key part of Van Horn’s win as he rushed for 132 yards on eight carries and scored twice. His 11-yard run with 1:35 left and his 88-yard score proved to be the biggest plays of the game.

Van Horn quarterback Sean Mitchell lavished praise on the freshman.

“Belshe had an amazing game,” said Mitchell, who rushed for 159 yards on 10 carries and completed 13 of 18 passes for 161 yards. “He’s a little banged up, but he got that first down and got the win for us. He was definitely being more physical in his runs. He’s a freshman, so you’ll have to keep your eye on him the next two years.”

Four of the Falcons’ touchdowns came on plays that went more than 50 yards, as they displayed their speed.

“I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but we knew we had some special guys on the edge,” Van Horn coach William Harris said. “We’ve got the speed, the talent and we have a quarterback. We just have to do the little things better and stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Chrisman started the scoring with Mitchell Cory’s 23-yard field goal as a penalty stalled a drive deep in the red zone to make it 3-0.

Van Horn (4-2) then rattled off 21 straight points, with the first TD coming on a reverse to senior wide receiver Arlandes Mitchell. Belshe and Mitchell each scored on runs of 5 yards to push the lead to 21-3.

Chrisman showed it could move the ball well all game. On a possession near the end of the first half, Chrisman made it down to the Van Horn 20, but a false start penalty and Dayne Herl’s incomplete pass on fourth-and-15 caused a turnover on downs.

The Falcons took advantage as Mitchell used a play-action fake that helped sophomore wide receiver Demetrius Wilson get wide open on a 64-yard touchdown pass to balloon the advantage to 28-3.

“He gets outside early during practice and throws balls,” Harris said of Mitchell. “He’s doing some things to fix some things he was doing earlier in the season. We were on a two-game losing streak, and he wasn’t the reason we lost, but he made some mistakes, and he owned them.”

Just when it seemed like Van Horn may pull away, the Bears used a trick play to get back in it. Herl handed it off to sophomore Sir’Rahn Fleix, who finished with 158 yards on 12 carries and caught five passes for 36 yards. Herl then connected with senior D’Mauri Franklin on a 47-yard pass that got the ball in the red zone. That helped set up Kameron Thompson, who had 166 yards rushing on 22 carries, for an 8-yard jaunt to cut it to 28-9 after a missed extra point.

“Sir’Rahn had a great game,” Perry said. “This was his best game. I knew it was going to be that way. He had a great week of practice and he worked really hard and did some good things.”

Chrisman (1-5) had another chance to score before halftime as it drove the ball all the way to the Falcons’ 10. However, it ended with Cory missing a 27-yard field goal.

Early in the third, after Van Horn recovered a Chrisman fumble at its own 18, Mitchell showed off his speed as he faked a handoff and ran up the middle and got behind the defense for an 82-yard jaunt to make it 35-9.

“I have a video of it, so I may need to send it to him,” Mitchell said of former Van Horn quarterback Shaun Ross, who was known for his dynamic runs and elusiveness in his time as a Falcon. “I looked back and saw a linebacker chasing me. I don’t know if he just gave up on the play, but I pulled away from him.

“I run the 200 (meter dash in track and field), so I get faster as I go. My 40 (yard dash) isn’t the best, but if you don’t get me early, I am going to outrun you.”

The Bears answered on the next drive when Felix scored from 33 yards out on an end around run to pull within 35-16.

After Belshe made it 42-16 with his run, Thompson later scored on a 1-yard run and Felix scored on a 7-yard reverse. Thompson’s final score pulled Chrisman within five, falling just short of an improbable comeback.

“Our defensive guys are really young,” Harris said of his struggling defense. “Our secondary is all freshmen and sophomores. They are going to make mistakes. I knew we were going to take lumps on defense. But we’ve still got to get better and do our part defensively.”

Like Harris, Perry wasn’t happy with his defense.

“Our outside linebacker got hurt, so that caused a rotational issue,” Perry said. “Their speed is tough to defend. They are faster than us, I worried about that all week.”