Could the Big Walnut varsity football team, which began the season 0-5, end up with a 5-5 record and win the Ohio Capital Conference’s Capital Division with a 5-0 record?
Improbable as it may have seemed midway through the season, the Golden Eagles took a major step towards making that a reality with a 14-13 victory on the road over Groveport Madison on Oct. 20.
Big Walnut was confident going in against the 0-8 Cruisers, winning the coin toss and electing to receive. After the BW opening drive stalled, Groveport scored on a picture-perfect 69-yard flea flicker: Quarterback Colin Rice pitched it to running back Elyjah Aekins, who hit wide receiver Jaylin Chaney in stride. Luis Hernandez added the extra point for a shocking 7-0 score just over two minutes into the half.
That was still the score at halftime, although there was a lot of action. Linebacker Josh Hageman sacked Rice on a fourth down; but couldn’t get on the scoreboard, driving deep into Cruiser territory before fumbling. Both teams also failed on field goal attempts, with the Eagles blocking the GM try.
The fans on the opposing side of the field were getting tired of the announcer loudly saying CRUIS-ERS, and started responding with their own chant, LO-SERS.
It was senior night, and the halftime was extra long with introducing outgoing band members. Fans were thanked for putting up with construction, and were promised the new high school would be finished the next time they came to Le’Veon Bell Field. The alumnus, now a star for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was also thanked for his contributions and called “the best running back in the world.”
Groveport probably wished they still had Bell, because BW forced a fumble in the third quarter that led to them tying the game. The Golden Eagles drove 32 yards, all rushes and a great effort by Nathan Lawyer, who drove a pile of players for at least 10 yards. He pounded it in from a yard out, and Tyler Shuster got the extra point with 9 minutes to go in the third.
However, GM answered with a short pass from Rice to Aekins, who scored from the 41-yard-line. However, BW’s Colin White blocked the extra point. With just under 7 minutes in the third, it was Groveport 13-7.
The resilient Eagles hung in there, with Ronk passing and running down to the one, and keeping it for the score. The extra point was good, making it 14-13 with 2:29 left in the third.
The fourth quarter was a defensive struggle, with three consecutive fourth down stoppages. Big Walnut’s defense stood tall, snuffing out a final drive with about three minutes to go. The ground game got a couple first downs, and the GM defense was called for unsportsmanlike conduct to run out the clock and continue the Eagles’ remarkable run.
BW concludes its season Oct. 27 at home against Canal Winchester. Senior recognition will be prior to the 7 p.m. start.