Ryan Minor faked the handoff to Matthew Willis, followed his blocking over the right side and his eyes flew wide open. That much green in front of him? He had never seen that before.
“That was all lineman,” Minor said. “That was the biggest hole I’ve ever ran through.”
Minor sprinted as fast as he could for 93 yards and a touchdown. It was the big play the Eagles needed on offense on a rainy and windy Friday night against Badin.
“I looked back to make sure nobody was catching me,” Minor said.
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Not a chance with the head start the line gave him. And with a 17-point lead, the Eagles didn’t need to look back. Some big plays on defense helped too, and the Eagles defeated Badin 17-3 in a GCL showdown of Division III top 10 teams.
“We really wanted to get this W at home,” Eagles coach Marcus Colvin said. “It was a big opportunity for our program.”
The Eagles (6-1, 2-0 GCL Co-ed) entered the game in first place in the Division III, Region 12 playoff points and increased their lead over Wapakoneta. The Eagles were also tied for 10th in the AP state poll with Badin and will likely move up this week.
Badin (4-3, 1-1) entered the game third in Region 12 and fell to seventh. The Rams were coming of a big 42-7 victory over Alter riding the arm of Zach Switzer, who passed for 193 yards and was sacked three times, and the legs of Alex DeLong.
“I thought we were prepared, we had a good game plan,” Badin coach Nick Yordy said. “It was poor execution on offense. The defense had a great game to hold them to 17 points. The defense did everything they could to help us win a ballgame.”
As did CJ’s defense. The Eagles yielded only three points on the Rams’ three appearances in the red zone. The biggest play came when CJ was leading 7-0 and fumbled a punt away at its own 15. But on third-and-7 from the 12, junior cornerback Jason Ward intercepted Switzer’s pass in the end zone. The Eagles then drove to a 21-yard field goal by Jake Staub and a 10-0 lead.
“I knocked the ball out of his hands, it bounced up, I just caught it,” Ward said. “I couldn’t believe I even caught it. I had my eyes right and made the play when we needed it.”
Colvin said Ward’s interception was a sign of his team’s ability to respond to adversity.
“The program we try to run is never let yourself be down,” Colvin said. “The next play is available for you to change things. And Jason Ward made a heck of a play intercepting the football.”
Minor’s touchdown came with 2:18 left in the half and put the Eagles up 17-0. The Rams answered when Switzer threw long into the wind and double coverage and connected on a 40-yard play with Joshua Hegemann. But two false starts and defensive stop on third down made them settle for a 23-yard field goal by Michael Schweinefuss.
Badin drove into CJ territory early in the third quarter, but Conor Hartley intercepted a short pass by Switzer. Another touchdown chance came after another long Switzer completion to the CJ 20. But that’s as far as the Rams got before turning the ball over on downs.
“We worked so hard on a plan to stop these guys and it’s not easy — just a lot of credit to our defensive staff,” Colvin said.
Minor passed for 117 yards and Quincy Johnson rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.