By TED RADICK
VAN BUREN — Van Buren got the break it was looking for early in the third quarter with a fumble recovery on a Cory-Rawson punt return.
The Black Knights then took advantage, with Nick Beitzel going over the top of a Hornets’ defensive back to grab a 28-yard TD reception from Steven Franks. That gave Van Buren a 27-7 lead that would hold up in a Blanchard Valley Conference football game.
Van Buren improved to 4-3, 3-2 BVC. Cory-Rawson dropped to 1-6, 1-4.
“Special teams is such an important, and often overlooked, part of the game,” Van Buren coach J.T. Bates said. “The fact that we were able to force a turnover on special teams, and then capitalize on it, was big.”
Van Buren’s drive to start the second half resulted in a three-and-out. The Black Knights punted, and Clay Noblit jumped on Tommy Stauffer’s fumble at the Cory-Rawson 27-yard line. A pass interference penalty followed, but a bad snap resulted in a third-and-25 at Cory’s 28.
Franks lofted a pass, and Cory-Rawson’s Deontae Davis had perfect coverage on the fade intented for Beitzel.
Beitzel, at 6-foot-2, had a 6-inch height advantage on Davis and used every inch to reach around to snag the TD pass.
“We practiced it all week, the fade pass,” Beitzel said. “I saw the ball going up, I saw that it was a little bit short and I went up and made a play.
“It was a great ball by the quarterback, the line gave us great protection and it was a great play by all of us. The cornerback was in great position there, but we had to have a play.”
“We had a muffed punt that really hurt us, they got points off of that,” Cory-Rawson coach Cory Hefner said. “I think that, right there early in the second half, was a big momentum change.”
Cory-Rawson played with the Black Knights the rest of the game, but the damage had been done.
“Beitzel went up and got it, and that’s what we expect out of a senior,” Bates said. “We needed that badly. We have to be able to threaten in the passing game, and we were able to do that a little bit tonight.”
Cory-Rawson, undersized and outmanned compared to its Division V opponent, held Van Buren to minus-6 yards rushing in the second half. Some big plays in the first half, however, put the Hornets in a hole.
Jacob Leal, who rushed for 136 yards on 14 carries, scored on a 61-yard run on Van Buren’s first offensive play. Leal added a 42-yard scoring run early in the second quarter on what has to become a Van Buren staple, a counter trap.
“Any time we can get the ball in No. 12’s hands, Jacob Leal, we feel like we have an opportunity to be successful. Our line was called out this week to improve the blocking, and for the most part they showed up and did that.”
Franks found Codi Leanord for a 6-yard scoring pass and a 20-0 lead a little more than three minutes until halftime.
Cory-Rawson put up a solid scoring drive late in the first half. The Hornets, who rushed 45 times for 44 yards in the game, went 52 yards on seven rushing plays as Blaine Peterson scored from 2 yards out. Davis keyed the drive with a 26-yard sweep.
“The lack of numbers is hurting us,” Hefner said. “I really do believe we have a good football game. Defensively, I thought we played much better tonight, although the score doesn’t really reflect it.
“We gave up a couple of really silly, big plays. Early on, we missed some tackles that led to some big plays. But, it looked like we cleaned that up in the second half and it’s good to see.”
Cory-Rawson 0 7 0 0 — 7
Van Buren 6 14 7 0– 27
VB — Leal 61 run (pass failed)
VB — Leal 42 run (Piccirillo kick)
VB — Leanord 6 pass from Franks (Piccirillo kick)
C-R — Peterson 2 run (Ritter kick)
VB — Beitzel 28 pass from Franks (Piccirillo kick)
First Downs 6 5
Rushes-yards 45-44 31-153
Passing Yards 4 56
Comp-Att-Int 1-5-2 5-10-0
Punts-Avg. 6-35.2 5-35.0
Fumbles-Lost 5-1 2-1
Penalties-Yards 4-33 8-60
rushing — Cory-Rawson, Peterson 12-34, Price 10-26, Stauffer 7-15, Davis 10-7, Stiles 1-(minus-2), Marshall 5-(minus-36). Van Buren, Leal 14-136, Smith 2-16, S. Franks 7-4, Simons 3-3, P. Franks 1-0, Holman 3-(minus-1), Forsyth 1-(minus-5).
passing — Cory-Rawson, Marshall 1-5-2-4. Van Buren, S. Franks 5-10-0-56.
receiving — Cory-Rawson, Peterson 1-4. Van Buren, Leal 2-26, Beitzel 2-24, Leanord 1-6.
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