Big Walnut’s varsity football team fell to 0-3 on the season with a 33-14 loss to St. Charles on Friday night.
Although the Golden Eagles won the coin toss and elected to receive, things went south with a second down fumble. A quarterback sack by senior defensive lineman Sandy Smith had the Cardinals punting, but Walnut fumbled again. With the ball on the 19, St. Charles senior running back Davionn Johnson dashed in for a touchdown on the next play. Junior kicker Clayton Anderson booted the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 9:36 in the first quarter.
A determined Big Walnut struck back quickly, with junior quarterback Tyler H. Ronk striking senior running back Evan Garcia with a 40-yard touchdown throw. Junior kicker Tyler Shuster tied the score at 7-7 with 8:09 to go in the first.
Next, St. Charles junior quarterback Brooks McCann connected on a long pass to senior receiver Tanner Fix, setting up a 2-yard scamper by Johnson. The point after made the score St. Charles 14, Big Walnut 7 with 6:02 in the first.
That’s where the score remained, until the St. Charles cashed in a long, punishing drive with a 35-yard field goal by Anderson. At the half, it was a 17-7 Cardinals lead.
In the third, Johnson wiped out a 1st and 25 long yardage situation with two rushes. A steady diet of running had St. Charles at the – yard-line, where McCann ran in for the touchdown. The extra point put St. Charles up 24-7 with 6:14 to go in the third.
Big Walnut responded with a long drive of their own, set up by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Cardinals. However, a goal line stand stopped the Eagles at the 2 yard line. That didn’t stop them, though — on a subsequent drive, junior back David Hunt ran in from the 2-yard-line for a touchdown, and Shuster got the point after to close the score to 24-14 with 8:17 left.
Another long drive by the Cardinals ended with a fourth down play from the 3 yard line, and a pressured McCann getting the ball to (we think) senior receiver Jordan Burkey, who dove into the end zone with 4:04 to go. That’s how the referees called it, but refs sitting on the home team side didn’t think so. Even announcer Glenn Evans said, “Apparently, that’s a touchdown.”
Big Walnut got the ball back deep, and a quarterback slip in the end zone resulted in a safety with 3:55 to go for the final score of 33-14. Substitutes finished out the game.
Other notable players included senior wide receivers Cody Priestas and Chase Adams; and linebacker Kaleb Kocak (senior) and Brandon Mosher (junior).
Statistically, Big Walnut backs carried the ball 38 times for 83 yards, but St. Charles had 315 yards on the ground. Although the Eagles had more passing yards and fewer penalties than the Cardinals, they held the ball for nearly ten minutes less than the victors.
Interestingly, the St. Charles team spent halftime in an end zone, and they had no marching band.
Before the game, a moment of silence was observed for the victims of Sept. 11. Last week’s banner that the team ran out to said, “Straight outta USA (with girls).”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.