By Michael Rich
Evan Garcia scored from three yards out in overtime to cap Big Walnut’s 27-21 victory over county-rival Delaware Hayes in OCC-Capital football action on Friday night in Sunbury.
Cullen Moore found Josh Hyatt for 18 yards on a fourth-and-seven play to set up Ethan Tucky’s three-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds left to tie the score at 21.
“We showed a lot of character throughout,” Pacers coach Mike Golden said. “Cullen was doing a good job – he’s got a (foot injury), so I was real proud of him.”
David Hunt returned the ensuing kickoff 41 yards down to the Hayes 19-yard line to set up a 25-yard field goal attempt with three seconds left in regulation. The kick was low and blocked at the line to force overtime.
Hayes got first crack, but linebacker Caleb Kocek pressured Moore, who dropped the ball and fell on it for a seven-yard loss on second down.
Moore escaped three defenders on the next play and scampered 10 yards, but was well short of the first down.
After a missed 35-yard field goal attempt, Big Walnut just needed a score to end it.
Hunt rushed three times for 17 yards to set up Garcia’s game-winner.
The Eagles (2-3, 1-1) got sacks by Charlie Kliendinst and Jarrett Atkins on back-to-back plays to force Hayes back to midfield after the Pacers recovered a fumble on Big Walnut’s 32-yard line.
“Charlie Kliendinst played out of his mind tonight,” BW coach Joe Weaver said. “We had some kids step up and make some plays for us tonight. They answered the call in some key situations for us.”
A low snap forced Hayes punter Noah Watts to go low to try to scoop it out, but his knee touched the ground, giving the Eagles an opportunity at the Hayes 42.
“That was a big swing in field position,” Weaver said. “It was a low snap and the guy happened to drop his knee on the ground.”
Hunt and Garcia carried the Eagles down to the four-yard line before Hunt capped the drive with his only touchdown to grab a 21-14 lead with five and a half minutes left.
Hunt, a sophomore, carried 17 times for 145 yards to lead Big Walnut. Garcia added 85 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
Sean Gliebe scored on an 18-yard run and Moore connected with Tucky on a six-yard pass in the first half for Hayes and Garcia scored from nine yards out and Josh Seabrook caught a 13-yard pass from John Sutton in the first half for Big Walnut.
Moore went 7-for-16 for 120 yards, a touchdown and an interception and added 49 yards on 16 carries on the ground. Hyatt caught four of those balls for a team-high 86 yards.
Sutton completed three of seven passes for 28 yards and a touchdown.
The Pacers (2-3, 0-2) didn’t have a rusher record 100 yards, but ran for 193 yards total led by Deven Ward with 65 yards on 17 attempts.
“We’re better than last year — we have to keep getting better or we’re not going to have a successful season,” Golden said. “We’re just going to have to keep working hard, which is hard to do in these situations.”
Joey Schooley had a big night for the Eagles defensively, with seven and a half tackles, two for a loss and a sack. He also intercepted a pass.
Cole Sparks led the Pacers defense with eight tackles. Tucky had the lone sack, though he was held to three total tackles.
Hayes visits New Albany and Big Walnut hosts Worthington Kilbourne next Friday as league play continues.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.