Wide receiver Seth Myers caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tyler Beam with 41 seconds left as the Big Walnut High School football team rallied to beat visiting Hilliard Bradley 11-10 in an OCC-Capital Division game on Friday, Sept. 30.
It was the fifth consecutive victory for the Golden Eagles, who improved to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Capital. Bradley dropped to 4-2 and 1-2.
The game was played on a muddy field. Similar conditions forced Big Walnut’s home game against Olentangy Orange on Sept. 23 to be postponed to the next day and moved to Ohio Wesleyan University. The Golden Eagles won that game 35-34.
“(The field) was frustrating but we practiced on it all week because our practice field is the same way, so we felt we were pretty well prepared for it,” Big Walnut linebacker and tight end Garrett Dandrea said.
Big Walnut was stopped on fourth-and-goal twice in the second half by the Bradley defense, but both stops led to safeties by the Golden Eagles’ defense. The second safety came after Beam fumbled at the 1. On the next play, Bradley running back Steven Breen was tackled in the end zone, cutting the deficit to 10-4 with 4:26 left.
Big Walnut was forced to punt on the ensuing possession, but Bradley went three-and-out on its next possession and the Golden Eagles got the ball back at the Jaguars’ 30. Five plays later, Beam connected with Myers on the winning score.
“I’m so proud of our guys,” Big Walnut coach Joe Weaver said. “Somebody makes a mistake and there are 10 guys right there backing him up. We saw that all over the field tonight. We battled through some adverse situations and the kids never quit. They never stopped believing in each other and believing in what we’re doing.”
Bradley opened the scoring with a 1-yard run by Breen on fourth-and-goal with 4:52 left in the second quarter. The score completed a 59-yard drive that was aided by two Big Walnut penalties totaling 30 yards, including a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty after quarterback Conor Driscoll threw an incomplete pass on third-and-10 from the Jaguars’ 41.
Bradley punted on its next possession on fourth-and-2 at the Big Walnut 45. However, the Golden Eagles were called for a personal foul on the play, giving the Jaguars a first down at the Big Walnut 30.
Five plays later, Tanner Sheffield kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired, giving Bradley a 10-0 halftime lead.
In the first half, Big Walnut had only 29 total yards and was called for seven penalties totaling 65 yards. The Golden Eagles had 88 yards in the second half and held Bradley to only 25 yards. The Jaguars had 96 yards in the first half.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Bradley coach Mike LoParo said. “In the first half, I thought we did a good job of moving the chains and controlling the ball and controlling the clock exactly how we wanted to. In the second half, we just couldn’t sustain a drive.
“Our defense played well the whole game. Big Walnut just put us in tough spots field position-wise the whole second half.”
Bradley played without its top running back, Blake Scipio, who sat out with a knee injury suffered in a 45-12 win over Franklin Heights on Sept. 23. Scipio, who also plays defensive back, rushed for a program-record 757 yards last season.
HILLIARD BRADLEY 0 10 0 0 -- 10
BIG WALNUT 0 0 2 9 -- 11
HB--Breen 1 run (Gates kick)
HB--Sheffield 31 FG
BW--Safety, Bradley player downed in end zone
BW--Safety, Bradley player tackled in end zone
BW--Myers 3 pass from T. Beam (Gibson kick)