BW finishes strong in 35-13 win over Hayes
By GARY HENERY
News Managing Editor
DELAWARE — It was well worth the wait … for the Golden Eagles.
Big Walnut, clinging to a 21–13 halftime lead, came back from Friday night’s lightning suspension to shut out Delaware Hayes in the second half en route to a 35–13 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division victory over the home-standing Pacers Saturday night at Gauthier Field.
In the closing seconds of the first half, lightning put a damper on the annual Golden Eagle-Pacer rivalry. With lightning from an approaching storm illuminating the skies, forcing the officials to suspend play until Saturday night.
When play resumed Saturday night, Big Walnut (2–2, 0–1 OCC) and Hayes (1–4, 0–2 OCC) each exchanged two possessions before Joe Weaver’s Golden Eagles took control of the game. Following a Pacer punt, Big Walnut mounted a 12-play, 72-yard drive that ended with Carson Chatterton’s 1-yard quarterback sneak three seconds into the fourth quarter to give the visitors a 28–13 lead.
The Golden Eagle defense held Hayes on downs at the BW 48 on the following possession. Six plays later, sophomore running back Christian Johnson, who had a 52-yard TD run called back by a holding penalty on the first play of the series, scored on a 14-yard run with 7:14 remaining in the contest Following Tyler Satterfield’s fifth successful point-after try, Big Walnut led 35–21.
“We came back out ready to play after the longest half in history. Our kids were focused and pretty much dominated the game on Saturday night,” Weaver said. “Christian was our go-to player in the second half. He’s a tough-nosed kid who goes and plays hard on each and every play.”
Big Walnut’s 5-foot-6, 150-pound running back rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries in the second half after scoring on a 64-yard run on Big Walnut’s first play of the game, Johnson totaled with 241 yards in 23 attempts for an average of 10.5 yards per carry. Senior Alex Clark contributed 58 yards in 11 carries. Chatterton was 5-for-10 passing, with an interception, for 61 yards. Gabe Kitchen, with 2 catches for 26 yards and Johnson, with 2 receptions for 20 yards, were Chatterton’s leading receivers.
As a team, Big Walnut accumulated 434 yards in total offense with 16 first downs in 55 plays, 373 of the yards coming on the ground in 45 rushing attempts.
Weaver also praised the play of the Golden Eagle defense after a shaky start Friday night.
“Our defense came back out Saturday night and pretty much controlled Hayes in the second half, especially up front,” Weaver said. “I was really pleased with their effort against Delaware’s offense, an offense that has great potential.”
Big Walnut’s defense kept the Pacers off the scoreboard in the second half, allowing only 58 yards and 6 first downs (2 by penalty) in 24 plays, after surrendering 168 yards and 2 touchdowns in 39 plays on Friday night. Junior back Thoeun Sorn led the Pacers with 85 yards in 15 carries. Alex Rafeld was 8-for-21 passing for 75 yards with 3 interceptions. Taylor Adair, who rushed for 33 yards in 9 carries, had 3 catches for 41 yards while Jante’ Wright hauled in 3 passes for 21 yards.
“Big Walnut is a very good football team, a team that plays fundamentally sound and limits its mistakes … that is why they are good year in and year out,” Pacer coach Zebb Schroeder said. “We’re a very young team that is going through some growing pains and, because of our youth, we make too many mistakes in key situations.”
Mistakes hurt Hayes in the opening half Friday night, two mistakes that denied the Pacers two probable scores while helping Big Walnut to a 21–13 lead at the break.
After Johnson’s 64-yard touchdown run gave the Golden Eagles an early 7–0 lead, the Pacers drove to the BW 1-yard line in 9 plays, but came up empty-handed. On a third-and-goal, Sorn powered into the end zone, but the play was nullified by an offensive holding penalty. On the ensuing play, Rafeld fumbled and the ball was recovered by Big Walnut’s Brant Weiss on the Golden Eagle 24-yard line,
After the two teams exchanged touchdown passes, Rafeld tossing a 17-yard scoring strike to Adair with 3:34 left in the opening period to cut the BW lead to 7–6 and Chatterton finding Gabe Kitchen on 13-yard pass with 11:16 remaining in the half.
The Golden Eagles forced another Pacer turnover as Seth Myers stepped in front of a pass intended for Caleb Howell at the Big Walnut 1-yard line, returning it to the BW 33 to end the threat.
Three plays and 67 yards later, the Golden Eagles were back in the end zone as Alec Eisnnicher broke free on on 56-yard scoring run for a 21–6 lead with 4:26 left in the half.
Hayes took advantage of a Golden Eagle turnover late in the half to score with 1:58 left. After recovering the ball on the BW 9-yard line after Myers made contact with a Pacer punt, Rafeld found Wright on a 5-yard scoring pass from 5 yards out to send the two teams into Saturday with Big Walnut leading 21–13.