The good news was Big Walnut led Worthington Kilbourne 7-3 at the half. The bad news was the Wolves had a monster third quarter on their way to a 38-14 win over the Golden Eagles.
Although it was an away game, there was some swagger to start with — the Eagles cheerleaders had a banner that read, Your School, Your Field, Our Game! — and the players ran through it. The stadium on Hard Road, was bordered by Interstate 270 and a railroad track — the train ran by only once, in the fourth quarter.
The first quarter was scoreless, with stout defensive plays by Big Walnut senior linebacker Kaleb Kocak, junior linebacker Abe Myers, and sophomore defensive lineman Eli Myers. In addition, a 36-yard field goal attempt by the Wolves’ George Pearon was no good.
Worthington got on the board first, though. Junior quarterback Josh Stewart hooked up with sophomore receiver Gavin Baker for a long reception, and a first down rush by senior back Nick Hill got the Wolves into the red zone, where they settled for a 31-yard field goal by senior kicker Pearon with 5:52 left in the half.
Despite a 25-yard scramble by Ronk, Big Walnut had to punt. However, penalties stymied the Wolves, and on fourth down, they were penalized again before getting a punt off. The result was Big Walnut had the ball first and goal from the five-yard line. On fourth down and with time half about to end, junior back David Hunt dived over a pack of Wolves for the touchdown. Junior kicker Tyler Shuster added the point after, and the Eagles had the lead going into the second half.
Unfortunately, the Wolves ran wild in the third quarter — specifically running back Michael McQuade, who had touchdown runs of 13-, 10-, and 4-yards in successive drives. Sophomore Carson Skillman added the extra points, and with 2:13 left in the third, it was Worthington 24-7. McQuade, a junior, led both teams with 128 yards on 20 carries.
The Wolves weren’t finished, though. Ronk (6 of 13 passing, 42 yards) was intercepted on two consecutive drives for pick-sixes, the first a 91-yard return by junior linebacker Noah Reed, the second a 25-yard run by senior defensive back Tyler Davis after the ball had been tipped at the line.
Kilbourne has a wolf statue on the sidelines, and each time Kilbourne scored, smoked poured out of its mouth. The contraption was used a lot in the second half.
It was all Kilbourne, 38-7, with 11:21 to go in the final quarter, and the running clock couldn’t go fast enough for some. With a breeze, the weather was more fall-like than some had dressed for.
Senior Philip Roberto was the running back for Big Walnut’s final drive, and he ran well, scoring the game’s final touchdown with 43 seconds left to go. The marching band had already left. Roberto finished with 37 yards; Hunt 47; senior Evan Garcia 38; and Ronk had 48.
Although Big Walnut had nearly as many total yards as Worthington, and held the ball longer and had fewer penalties, the difference was the 4-2 turnover margin. The Eagles had two interceptions, one by senior linebacker Kobe Swackhammer, the other by junior defensive back Jackson Seiple.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.