The annual Olentangy-Big Walnut rematch is viewed by many as one of the top football rivalries in Central Ohio … and rightfully so with the series all even at 23-23 heading into this 2011 season.
But last night, Joe Weaver’s Golden Eagles left Ed Terwilliger’s Braves wondering what hit them in a 41-13 setback in front of a packed house in Sunbury.
Big Walnut (2-1), after falling behind 7-0 on senior running back Josh Perry’s one-yard scoring run with 5:21 left in the opening quarter, ran off 27 unanswered points to open up a 27-7 advantage, and never looked back in beating the Braves for the third time in their last five meetings.
“Our players were focused on this game all week in practice,” Weaver said. “They went out and controlled the trenches, especially on defense where they kept Olentangy’s offense off the field. I was extremely proud of my kids and their effort against an explosive football team.”
The Golden Eagles answered Perry’s score with an 11-play, 68-yard drive capped by senior Joey Johnson’s 1-yard run with 1:15 left in the opening quarter to pull even at 7-7 following the first of five Corey Gibson successful point-after attempts.
Following the second of six Olentangy punts, the Golden Eagle offense went back to work, marching 59 yards in 10 plays with senior back Lucas Garcia scoring the first of his two touchdowns on a 7-yard scamper with 7:15 left in the second period.
“I was pleased with the way we answered Olentangy’s early score, much the way we did last week at Chillicothe (a 38-22 Big Walnut victory),” Weaver said. “We kept our focus and came back and took control of the game.”
The Golden Eagles closed the first half with two scores in the final 7:15 of the second period. Following a Johnson interception of a Jonathan Seymour pass at the Braves’ 42, quarterback Tyler Beam tossed a 21-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Seth Wandling for a 21-7 lead with 5:47 left in the quarter. Following another Olentangy punt, Gibson sent Big Walnut into the half up 24-7 with the first of his two field goals, a 28-yard boot as time ran out.
“Big Walnut is much bigger and quicker than most people think. They did a good job controlling the ball and keeping our offense off the field,” Terwilliger said after watching his club lose to BW for only the third time in its last eight games. “We made some mistakes with penalties when it looked like we were going to get some offensive momentum going, and we also committed some costly turnovers.”
A failed Olentangy onside kick that Big Walnut’s Jay Miller returned to the Braves’ 20 to open the second half led to Gibson’s second 28-yard field goal and a 27-7 Golden Eagle lead 2 minutes and 46 seconds into the third period. On the scoring series, Beam left the game with an injury to his left leg. His status was not available after the game.
Perry, who is headed to The Ohio State University on a football scholarship, tried to kick-start the Braves by returning the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to close the deficit to two touchdowns, 27-13, with 9:01 left in the third period.
But Big Walnut, with junior Carson Chatterton at the helm following Beam’s injury, engineered a six-play, 69-yard series that was capped by Garcia’s 23-yard run which put the Golden Eagles in command 34-13 with 6:27 left in the quarter. He capped the game’s scoring with a 27-yard scoring pass to Seth Myers for the 28-point margin of victory.
“Carson came in and did a nice job at quarterback replacing Tyler,” Weaver said. “He maintained our offensive rhythm which enabled us to take time off the clock.”
Big Walnut totaled 429 yards, including 301 yards on the ground, and 23 first downs in 73 plays. Garcia finished with 130 yards in 19 carries. Beam was 6-for-9 passing for 68 yards, adding 48 yards in 15 carries.
Terwilliger sees Big Walnut as a major player in the Ohio Capital Conference’s Capital Division race.
“Joe and his veteran staff have done a good job with Big Walnut’s program and I see Big Walnut being a major player in the OCC-Capital Division race,” he said.
As for his Braves, Terwilliger said, “We will have to get after it in practice starting Monday and work on getting better as a football team.”
Big Walnut opens its OCC-Capital Division schedule next week at Watkins Memorial (2-1), an 18-7 loser to Mifflin, while Olentangy opens its OCC-Cardinal Division slate at Dublin Scioto, a 34-19 winner over Worthington Kilbourne.
Olentangy finished with just 163 yards and 8 first downs in 46 snaps. Perry, who sat out most of the second half with an injury, collected 42 of the Braves’ 106 rushing yards in only 9 carries. Seymour was 4-for-14 passing for 38 yards.
The Golden Eagles’ 28-point margin of victory was the largest since a 22-point, 31-9 Olentangy win in 2005. Big Walnut’s biggest winning margin came in 1968 when the Golden Eagles rolled 58-0. The Braves’ largest margin was 47 points in a 53-6 decision in 1957.