When two winless teams battle halfway into the season, pride is on the line.
Fortunately for the guys from Sunbury, this wasn’t the Green Wave of perennial powerhouse Newark Catholic; it was the Newark High School Wildcats, who were more like the Mildcats as the Golden Eagles entered their house and tamed them 47-14.
Big Walnut started out big and kept it going all through a dominating first half. On the opening drive, running back Nathan Lawyer scored from three yards out — his first of three touchdowns on the night. The point after was partially blocked, and it was one of the few miscues for the Eagles on the cool fall evening. A little more than halfway into the first quarter, quarterback Tyler Ronk sneaks in for the score on fourth and one from the one-yard line. Tyler Shuster tacked on the extra point for the early 13-0 lead. Not long after, Lawyer scored again to make it 20-0 going into the second quarter.
Newark seemed shaky from the get-go, with low snaps from the center to a tandem of quarterbacks that kept them from getting set to make handoffs or square up for a pass without having to run for their from BW’s swarming defense.
The cheerleaders did their “I believe we will win” chant, and this time, it seemed likely.
Newark had the ball to begin the second quarter, and got on the board with a 34-yard touchdown pass by Jake Sherman to Jade Balross and extra point by Isaac Mason.
That just seemed to rile up the Eagles, who responded on the next drive with a 17-yard touchdown run by Lawyer about halfway into the second. Eli Myers, wearing his injured brother Abe Myers’ #22, scored on a three-yard run. On Newark’s next offensive play, Myers got a sack. Although Abe Myers has a broken leg, he did watch the game from a Gator, and we’re told he will be ready for track season after four months off.
With about two minutes in the half, Ronk threw a 24-yard pass to Jackson Seiple as BW poured it on, 40-7. Fans in the visitors’ seats took a photo of the scoreboard to settle doubters’ minds.
The 33-point lead meant a rolling clock in the second half. The teams exchanged punts and turnovers in a scoreless third quarter. In the fourth quarter, each team added a touchdown: Quarterback John Sutton had a four-yard score for BW; and Newark’s Sherman tossed a three-yard TD to DeJuan Shackelford.
BW dominated the statistics, with 330 rushing yards (Lawyer led the way with 68) to 56 for Newark; held the ball slightly longer; had more first downs (18-11), and had fewer penalties and turnovers. Big Walnut punted only once.
It was great to see and hear the Eagles players whoop it up on the bench after the well-deserved win, but quickly line up and shake hands with their opponents at midfield in the always-classy display of sportsmanship that the NFL would do well to emulate.
Friday’s homecoming game is against Franklin Heights.