Running back Reed Hall of the New Albany football team was finding it tough going up the middle of host Big Walnut’s defense.

So coaches told the senior to take a different route.

“The coaches kept telling me to push it out all night,” Hall said. “(Big Walnut was) kind of clogging up the middle. All I had to do was get outside. Once I cut back in, that lane was wide open and I just took off.”

Hall’s 64-yard touchdown run with 8 minutes, 36 seconds left helped seal the Eagles’ 26-20 victory Oct. 18 and keep them in contention for a share of the OCC-Capital Division title at 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the league.

Hall finished with 112 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. He scored on a 1-yard run late in the second quarter to give New Albany a 14-7 halftime advantage.

Big Walnut, which dropped to 4-4 overall and also is 2-1 in the league, pulled to within a touchdown after Landen Rutkowski’s 26-yard field goal with 2:03 left.

The Golden Eagles then recovered the onside kick at the New Albany 42-yard line but couldn’t get any closer.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” Big Walnut coach Joe Weaver said. “They fought for four quarters and left it out here. … We knew it was going to be a slugfest and come down to the end.”

Brock Tibbitts’ 47-yard touchdown run gave New Albany the lead at 20-17 with 11:13 to play.

The quarterback completed eight of 14 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown.

“Tibbitts had a great run exactly when we needed it,” New Albany coach Bubba Kidwell said. “This is a huge win for our seniors who’ve done a lot for this program, and that was a big win to beat a rival, Big Walnut.”

The Golden Eagles held a brief lead in the third quarter when Rutkowski hit a 25-yard field goal to make it 17-14.

Big Walnut’s leading rusher, Caden Williams, finished with 52 yards on just two carries — one of them a 51-yard score on the first play of the third quarter.

Quarterback Jagger Barnett was 10-for-24 passing for 136 yards for the Golden Eagles.

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Team 1 2 3 4 Final NEW ALBANY 7 7 0 12 26 BIG WALNUT
0 7 10 3 20

NA—Kidwell 18 pass from Tibbitts (Hoff kick)

BW—Barnett 17 run (Gladen kick)

NA—Hall 1 run (Hoff kick)

BW—Williams 51 run (Gladen kick)

BW—Rutkowski 25 FG

NA—Tibbitts 47 run (kick failed)

NA—Hall 64 run (kick failed)

BW—Rutkowski 26 FG