AURORA – The Aurora Christian football team doesn’t care much about adhering to the program’s conventions.
The Eagles have too many ways to pick opponents apart to stick to any template, and they showcased several of them in Friday’s 41-14 win against St. Francis in Suburban Christian Conference Blue play.
Well known for their potent downfield passing game under coach Don Beebe, the defending Class 3A state champion Eagles have a different makeup this year, one predicated as much by dominant defense and physicality as aerial theatrics.
Case in point: Aurora Christian only had completed two passes on the night when it scored its fourth touchdown, a 36-yard connection from quarterback Ryan McQuade to junior receiver Noah Roberts.
Senior running back/linebacker Joel Bouagnon’s assessment was hard to dispute.
“I think we can do whatever we want, really,” Bouagnon said.
The win highlighted an emotional roller coaster of a week for Beebe, who found out Monday that his son, Chad – the team’s leading receiver – broke his left arm in the third quarter of last week’s win against Wheaton Academy. He’ll be out 6 to 8 weeks.
“This is one of the signature wins in Aurora Christian football history,” Beebe said. “That’s a 5A powerhouse. We didn’t just beat them haphazardly; we beat them. We beat them at the line of scrimmage. We beat them up physically.”
The Eagles (5-0, 3-0 SCC Blue) led 28-6 at halftime thanks to big plays on defense and special teams from Northern Illinois-bound seniors Brandon Mayes and Bouagnon.
After the Spartans scored on their first drive with a 49-yard catch-and-run touchdown reception by senior Andrew Brundage, the Eagles seized command. The teams traded fruitless possessions, but Aurora Christian pinned St. Francis deep and benefited from a poor punt, taking over at the Spartans’ 21-yard line. Bouagnon rushed in for a touchdown on the first play of the drive, and Trevor Hills’ point after gave the Eagles the lead for good.
The Eagles enjoyed sensational field position again on their next drive after Mayes blocked a punt. Mayes soon scored on a 29-yard screen play, with the PAT making it 14-6.
A St. Francis lateral gone awry led directly to the Eagles’ third touchdown late in the first quarter. Bouagnon, who appeared to be the third player to touch the slick football, gobbled the ball up at the 1-yard line and lurched in for the score as the Eagles began to pull away.
It was a monster night for Bouagnon (17 carries, 202 rushing yards), who scored two rushing TDs in addition to the fumble recovery TD. He barreled ahead with such force that, at one point, he knocked the helmet off a St. Francis defender.
“You guys know me. I love to throw the ball, but I also like to watch running backs like Joel and Brandon,” Beebe said. “That was fun to watch. And great defense.”
Beebe expected as much in the preseason from his defense.
“They had 23 rushes in the first half for 23 yards,” Beebe said. “That’s how good our defense is. I know we talked about it before the season, I said this is the best defense that we’ve ever had, and they proved that tonight against a 5A powerhouse, Wheaton St. Francis.”
Aurora Christian junior defensive back MJ Zepeda intercepted St. Francis quarterback Michael Robinson (12 for 19, 173 yards) and returned it 18 yards for a TD late in the third quarter as the Eagles went ahead, 41-6.
Spartans coach Greg Purnell had few words after the game.
“Aurora Christian is really a good football team,” said Purnell, whose team fell to 3-2, 1-2 in the SCC Blue. “They played extremely well. Well-balanced.”
Two-way Eagles lineman Josh Kok had the unenviable task of clashing with Michigan-bound offensive tackle Kyle Bosch, but Kok had plenty of backup from his teammates.
“He’s a great player,” Kok said. “He’s definitely Division I material. It was great going against him, but we just outplayed them in the end. We had guys flying all over the field. I didn’t beat him individually most of the time but we, with our speed, we just beat them.”
AURORA CHRISTIAN 41, ST. FRANCIS 14 St. Francis 6 0 0 8 – 14 ACS 21 7 13 0 – 41
HOW THEY SCORED
First quarter SF – Brundage 49 pass from Robinson (run failed), 8:15 ACS – Bouagnon 21 run (Hills kick), 4:05 ACS – Mayes 29 pass from McQuade (Hills kick), 2:22 ACS – Bouagnon 1 fumble recovery (Hills kick), 0:35Second quarter ACS – Roberts 36 pass from McQuade (Hills kick), 5:21Third quarter ACS – Bouagnon 34 run (run failed), 2:27 ACS – Zepeda 18 interception return (Hills kick), 0:48Fourth quarter SF – Doyle 26 run (Doyle run), 5:07
RUSHING – St. Francis: Murphy 14-58, Robinson 6-minus 12, Beck 6-15, Doyle 3-22, Jackson 5-22, Alcantara 2-minus 4. Totals: 36-101. Aurora Christian: Mayes 9-41, Bouagnon 17-202, McQuade 3-7, Roza 1-6. Totals: 30-256. PASSING – St. Francis: Robinson 12-19-1-173. Aurora Christian: McQuade 8-18-0-147.RECEIVING – St. Francis: Brundage 6-115, Webb 2-19, Connelly 1-16, Beck 3-23. Totals: 12-173. Aurora Christian: Mayes 3-48, Roberts 1-36, Bouagnon 2-26, Windle 1-21, Suttle 1-16. Totals: 8-147.TOTAL OFFENSE – St. Francis 274, Aurora Christian 403