This one was decided in the trenches.
Big Walnut dominated both sides of the line, piling up 482 yards — 454 on the ground — and 21 first downs in total offense, as the Golden Eagles rolled to their sixth straight victory Friday night, a 42-13 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division decision over Delaware Hayes on Homecoming Night at Gauthier Field.
After the Pacers drove 80 yards in 14 plays, completing 7 of 8 passes for 63 yards following the opening kickoff to take a 7-0 lead on senior quarterback Josh Bender’s 7-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Zack Parsons, Big Walnut (6-1, 4-0 OCC) put 42 unanswered points on the scoreboard to take a 42-7 lead into the final eight minutes.
“We played well,” Golden Eagle head coach Joe Weaver said of his squad’s line play. “Our play up front was solid. Our linemen were opening up holes and our backs were reading their blocks and moving the ball downfield with success and our defense picked up where it left last week against Hilliard Bradley.”
How well were the Golden Eagles moving the ball? They scored on five straight possessions.
It took Big Walnut just six rushing plays and 1 minute and 34 seconds to answer Hayes’ opening touchdown. Led by junior Alex Clark, who picked up 29 yards in four carries, and senior Lucas Garcia, with 37 yards in two carries, the Eagles reached the end zone on Clark’s 4-yard run with 3:30 left in the opening quarter.
The Golden Eagles put three touchdowns in the books in the second quarter. Clark capped a 12-play, 69-yard drive on a 6-yard run with 8:48 left in the second period. Senior quarterback Tyler Beam followed with a 40-yard scoring scamper to end a 4-play, 59-yard series following the first of two Seth Myers interceptions, and came back one minute and 52 seconds later by breaking free on a 45-yard touchdown run with 3:37 left in the opening half to send Big Walnut into the locker room with a commanding 28-7 lead.
“Big Walnut is a very good football team that plays hard and doesn’t let up,” Hayes head coach Zebb Schroeder said after watching his Pacers drop to 3-4 overall and 2-2 in the OCC Capital. “It’s easy to see why they’ve had the success they have had … they just keeping coming after you and eventually wear you down.”
Coming out of the intermission, Big Walnut picked up where it left off, scoring on its first two possessions of the third quarter to break the game open, 42-7.
Keeping the ball on the ground, the Golden Eagles drove 77 yards in six plays with senior Joey Johnson reeling off consecutive gains of 18, 4 and 20 yards before scoring from 8 yards out with 10:08 left in the third period.
Myers’ second pick set up the Golden Eagles’ final scoring drive, a 7-play, 65-yard march that ended on Garcia’s 15-yard scoring run with 5:36 left in the quarter.
Garcia led Big Walnut on the ground breaking the century mark with 138 yards and two TDs in 12 carries. Beam, who was 5-for-6 passing for 27 yards, followed with 71 yards and two scores in three carries.
Hayes closed out the scoring with 1:11 remaining in the contest as sophomore running back Thoeun Sorn scored on a 4-yard run to cap a 10-play, 78-yard series highlighted by junior quarterback Alex Rafeld’s 58-yard completion on a fourth-and-10 to junior Alex Hohe.
Delaware finished with 204 yards and 13 first downs, completing 16 of 30 passes for 171 yards with three interceptions while netting 33 yards on the ground in 30 carries. Bender was 13-for-19 passing for 105 yards.