Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 11/9/2013 10:45 PM

Aurora Christian crushes Oregon

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Oregon's offense opened Saturday night's Class 3A quarterfinal at Aurora Christian with an 18-play, 73-yard touchdown drive, converting a pair of fourth downs and taking nine minutes and 16 seconds off the clock.

Too bad the Hawks couldn't have figured out a way to take 24 minutes off the clock.

Because once Aurora Christian's offense got its hands on the ball, all the Eagles did was put it in the end zone. Quickly.

Eagles quarterback Austin Bray matched the Hawks' opening drive with a 3-yard touchdown run just two minutes later. Aurora Christian's first team offense scored touchdowns on all seven of its possessions, opening a 49-7 lead early in the third quarter on their way to a 49-20 victory.

No. 10 seed and two-time defending state champion Aurora Christian (8-3) will play at No. 6 Seneca (8-3) next weekend in the quarterfinals. Oregon (6-5) has now been knocked out by the Eagles in 2010 (38-0), 2011 (34-21) and 2013.

After the Hawks' opening scoring drive, Aurora Christian didn't give up another first down until coach Don Beebe started removing his starters.

"I think that's a metaphor," Beebe said, comparing the way his defense overcame the rough start to how his team is getting healthy at the right time, recovering from injuries to 16 starting positions during the season.

"They drive it down and it was 2011 all over again, we couldn't get them off the field. We had to make a decision. Are we going to turn this into a track meet or are we going to get more fired up on defense and start to stop them? And from that point on they didn't get another first down until we called the dogs off. That really turned the game around because our offense was on fire. All we had to do was give Austin the ball. Even with 15 seconds left in the half we could score."

That 15-second, 2-play, 59-yard drive capped a 28-point second quarter for the Eagles. Bray lofted a 44-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Walgren in the right corner of the end zone on the final play of the half, giving Aurora Christian a 35-7 halftime lead.

"He (the cornerback) was backing off a good 15, 20 yards and I sold him inside and went back out and Austin put the ball on me and I made the catch," Walgren said. "It was a great throw."

Walgren, who threw a 74-yard touchdown pass and returned an interception 98 yards for a score in last week's first-round win at IC Catholic Prep, had another spectacular individual game. He caught 6 passes for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns, nearly returned a punt for another score, threw a touchdown pass, and continued to contribute on defense.

"That kid is playing some serious football right now," Beebe said. "He's playing as good as any player we've had collectively on both sides of the ball."

"I've had the mindset this could be my last game and I can never strap up and play football again," Walgren said. "I have been giving it all I have."

Pierce Dhaese ended the Hawks' opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown reception on 4th-and-goal -- the only pass after 17 straight runs.

The Eagles followed with scoring drives of 5, 1, 3, 5, 3 and 1 plays -- the same number of plays total (18) to put 42 points on the board as the Hawks took on their opening drive.

After Bray's short run for the first score, he connected on a 44-yard TD to Walgren for a 14-7 lead. The Eagles used a little trickery to go up 21-7 when Bray threw a backward pass to Walgren who fired a 30-yard scoring strike to freshman fullback Zach Bosek.

Legend Smith scored on the first of his two 1-yard runs to make it 28-7 before Bray's heave to Walgren on the final play of the first half.

The Eagles quickly got the running clock started after halftime. Smith took a screen pass for a 56-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half. After Dan Brown recovered a fumble on the Hawks' next play, Smith plunged in from a yard out for a 49-7 lead with 8:35 left in the third quarter.

Bray finished 8-of-11 passing for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns. He's one of those players back from an injury, a list that doesn't yet include Noah Roberts or Jackson Carpenter -- Beebe hopes to have both back soon -- or Chase Tomney, who will not be back. The Eagles also lost Dan Clapp Saturday with a dislocated shoulder.

"We're still battling but I feel pretty good about the chemistry on the team and I've always said that is the No. 1 ingredient to winning, way over talent, is chemistry," Beebe said. "And this team has that. I'm very excited about that."

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