COLUMBUS — Goals one and two accomplished.
The Golden Eagles have put two preseason goals for 2011 in the books … an Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division championship and a berth in the OHSAA Division II playoffs.
Big Walnut, closing out its regular-season slate with an 8-2 overall record (6-1 OCC), locked up a share of the OCC’s Capital Division with Olentangy Orange and New Albany via a 41-10 decision over an undermanned, but determined Franklin Heights (1-9, 0-7 OCC) squad Friday night.
The Pioneers defeated Delaware Hayes 47-21 and the Eagles scored a 35-14 decision over Mount Vernon to match the Golden Eagles with identical records for the top spot in the Capital Division.
“The guys came out ready to play an took care of business early,” Golden Eagle head coach Joe Weaver said. “We never wavered in our bid to win a share of the OCC Capital and to return to the state playoffs. I’m extremely proud of what they have accomplished, but now it’s time to refocus and get ready for the postseason.”
Big Walnut wasted little time in taking control at Franklin Heights with three early scoring series lasting a total of 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Senior quarterback Tyler Beam, completing four of his first five passes for 152 yards, threw touchdown strikes of 61, 5 and 26 yards to senior Grant Beam, senior Seth Wandling and senior Gabe Kitchen to take a 21-0 lead with 4:21 left in the opening period.
The Golden Eagles, who did not throw another pass the rest of the night, did well on the ground the rest of the way, scoring a touchdown in each of the final three periods.
After holding the Falcons on downs to start the second quarter, Big Walnut put together a 9-play, 65-yard drive behind the running of Alex Clark and Joey Johnson. Johnson, who rushed for 80 yards in 8 carries, sent the Golden Eagles into the intermission up 28-0 on his 16-yard scamper into the end zone with 1:52 left in the half.
After the break, Weaver started going to his bench, opening the second half with Carson Chatterton taking over behind center. Behind the 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior, the Eagles went on a 4-play, 50-yard scoring series capped by Johnson’s 25-yard TD run, a score that pushed the BW advantage to 35-0 just over two minutes into the third period.
Franklin Heights, dressing only 18 players, kept battling and finally broke through for a score on the strength of a 14-play, 78-yard march that ended on senior Alex Lesley’s 36-yard field goal with 5:20 left in the game.
The Golden Eagles, with sophomore quarterback Austin Thomas at the controls, answered with a 6-play, 53-yard march that saw Thomas score on a 56-yard run with 1:42 to play. Thomas set up the score with a 31-yard run on a third-and-4 call that gave BW a first down at the Falcons’ 16.
Heights closed out the scoring on senior John Pyles’ 4-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the game. Lesley, who was 8-for-17 passing for 68 yards, set up the score with a 31-yard strike to senior Mike Boehm on a third-and-9 call from the Golden Eagles’ 35.
In total offense, Big Walnut collected 384 yards and 17 first downs in 44 plays. Led by Johnson, the Golden Eagles rushed for a total of 232 yards in 39 carries to go with Tyler Beam’s 152 yards through the air. Heights finished with 172 yards and 13 first downs in 52 plays, totaling 104 yards on the ground in 36 tries. Pyles led the way with 74 yards in 19 carries.