WHEATON – Legend Smith just gave opposing coaches something else to fear when they face Aurora Christian’s football team.
After waiting in the wings for the last four weeks, the Eagles senior running back did a lion’s share of the offensive work in a 24-14 win over St. Francis on Friday night.
“We kept him quiet for four weeks,” said Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe, whose team is known more for its aerial attack. “I’m just really proud of the way Legend Smith ran the ball. He ran hard. He’s a great running back and he proved that tonight.”
It didn’t take long for Smith to make his presence felt. On the first play of the game, he rushed for 15 yards. Seven plays later he broke off a 32-yard scoring run that put Aurora Christian (5-0 overall, 3-0 Suburban Christian Blue) ahead 7-0 just 3:23 into the game.
“When I was running through that hole, at first I didn’t expect it to be there but my line was just doing what they needed to do,” Smith said. “They worked together, they pushed and I just had to go through to green grass.”
After a three-and-out for St. Francis (3-2, 1-2), the Eagles struck quickly on Brandon Walgren’s 63-yard option pass to Noah Roberts, making it 14-0 with 6:06 left in the first quarter.
Smith said the fast start gave the Eagles confidence and momentum for the rest of the game. Beebe said a fast start was necessary on a night in which the Spartans had a dedication ceremony for their new Kuhn Memorial Stadium, and a night in which the Eagles faced their first real test of the season. Coming into the game, they had outscored their overmatched opponents, 233-21.
“We knew we were coming into a hornet’s nets,” Beebe said. “We knew they were going to come out with everything they had. They were going to play physical, they were going to play fast and I said, ‘Guys, this game isn’t going to be like the first four. We have to start fast and take the momentum out of them right away.’ And boy, did we do that in spades.”
With Smith rushing for 188 yards, the Eagles piled up 402 yards of offense. St. Francis was limited to 181 total yards with standout running back James Butler limited to 44, including a 1-yard touchdown that made it a 14-7 game with 4:12 left in the first half.
“They had a great defense,” Butler said. “They had a great scheme that confused our linemen and our backs a little bit. I have to give it up to their defense. They played a really good game tonight.”
AURORA CHRISTIAN 24, ST. FRANCIS 14
Aurora Christian 14 7 3 0 – 24
St. Francis 0 7 0 7 – 14
How they scored
AC – Legend Smith 32 run (Trevor Hills kick), 8:37
AC – Noah Roberts 63 pass from Brandon Walgren (Hills kick), 6:06
SF – James Butler 1 run (Ian Hart kick), 4:12
AC – Roberts 80 pass from Austin Bray (Hills kick), 3:54
AC – Hills 32 field goal, 7:19
SF – Clint Bobowski 1 run (Hart kick), 4:11
Rushing – Aurora Christian: Legend Smith 22-188, Brandon Walgren 3-22, Noah Hagerty 1-9, Noah Roberts 1-4, Austin Bray 11-minus-2. St. Francis: James Butler 14-44, Tarshma Jackson 7-26, Zach Prociuk 1-12, Clint Bobowski 5-3, Steven Fassnacht 2-minus-1
Passing – Aurora Christian: Bray 7-17-115, Walgren 1-1-63. St. Francis: Prociuk 9-16-97
Receiving – Aurora Christian: Roberts 4-155, Walgren 2-18, Legend Smith 1-3, Trevor Hills 1-2. St. Francis – Nick Dama 2-40, Matthew Hanson 3-33, Nathan Zito 2-16, Adam Hart 2-8.