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Huge second half sends Aurora Christian back to semifinals

AurorChristian's defense stops Winnebago ball carrier Michael Pate Saurday. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media

Aurora Christian's defense stops Winnebago ball carrier Michael Pate on Saurday. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 12, 2012 10:42PM

There’s something to be said for keeping the faith.

Despite losing three turnovers in the first half of Saturday’s IHSA Class 3A playoff quarterfinal, Aurora Christian still managed to go to the locker room at the break tied 14-14 with Winnebago. Coach Don Beebe, for one, remained confident.

He said he told his players, “’I’m not panicking. I’m good. They’ve got three bad turnovers (2 interceptions, 1 lost fumble) and it’s still tied. And I’m gonna tell you why I feel OK. Because you took the ball with 56.3 seconds left in the half 80 yards into the wind and you came away with a touchdown (to tie the game). Now that’s moxie. That’s big-time football by big-time players and that took the heart right out of them.’”

The 11-1 hosts switched to a no-huddle offense, and sparked by the strong running of senior backs Joel Bouagnon and Brandon Mayes, the Eagles then made it a rout in the second half by scoring 35 unanswered points to win 49-14.

“We haven’t used the no-huddle in nine years I’ve coached here but we practiced it all week,” said Beebe. “And what did (the no huddle) do? It took them right out of their rhythm. That was a big, big difference in that game.”

Bouagnon carried the ball 13 times for 215 yards and four touchdowns on runs of 1, 2, 27 and 5 yards. He had six carries of 20 yards or more. Mayes added 114 yards rushing on 11 carries with scores of 44 and 15 yards.

“Those guys are phenomenal, and obviously the offensive line had a great game, too,” said senior quarterback Ryan McQuade, who passed for 146 yards.

The 49-14 decision sends the defending 3A champs to next week’s semifinal at Sterling Newman, which won its quarterfinal with Wilmington.

“I think our senior guys were struggling a little bit early on,” said Beebe, recalling the two interceptions that both came on balls that were tipped. A third interception early in the third quarter was negated by a defensive holding penalty on Winnebago as the Eagles went on to score on all five second-half possessions.

“What do we do? We come out and outscore them 35-0 in the second half. It comes from moxie and resolve from our 12 seniors,” said Beebe.

The Indians (9-3) had taken a 14-7 lead after a 1-yard Fred Mosby TD run and a 7-yard scoring pass from Ryan Swigart to Jacob Posley, both in the second quarter. They came after Bouagnon’s first TD gave the home team the early 7-0 lead.

Winnebago did pile up 327 rushing yards with Jake Hickey (10-77) and Fred (12-60) leading the way, but Aurora Christian countered with 329 on the ground and had a 475-362 advantage in total yards.

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