After St. Edward marched 17 plays for a clock-eating touchdown on the opening drive at Aurora Christian Friday night, a Green Wave fan shouted "how about an onside kick?"
That fan, and St. Edward coach Mike Rolando, knew it wasn't going to be easy to stop Anthony Maddie. The Western Michigan-bound quarterback led Aurora Christian to 8 touchdowns in 8 possessions Friday before finally taking a knee on the final drive to end a 55-22 Suburban Christian Conference crossover victory.
St. Edward eventually did try a couple onside kicks but the Eagles pounced on both of those. The Green Wave (4-4) now will need to beat St. Francis in its season finale next week for a fifth win and shot at a third straight playoff berth while Aurora Christian (7-1) takes its No. 5 ranking in Class 4A into a much-anticipated meeting against neighboring Aurora Central.
"Offensively that was our best game," Eagles coach Don Beebe said. "Defensively we played very well as the game went on."
Friday's game couldn't have started better for the Green Wave. Rolando's move to put two-way lineman Evan Finnane at fullback paid off with three first-down runs the first three times the 255-pound bruiser touched the ball.
Finnane capped the opening drive with a 1-yard dive into the end zone on fourth down. Even though the extra point missed, the Green Wave had taken 9 minutes and 25 seconds off the clock, running the ball all 17 plays.
"That's the way we wanted to open the game," Rolando said. "Drive the ball, kill the clock. It was great if we could have stuck with that and not been down 30 or 40 points."
Aurora Christian answered with a 71-yard scoring march, punctuated by the first of Maddie's 5 touchdown passes, a 28-yard strike to Cory Windle (4 catches, 124 yards, 3 touchdowns). Maddie found Grayson Roberts for a 15-yard first down pass on third-and-long to keep the drive alive.
After Bob French booted a 50-yard punt to pin the Eagles deep, Maddie drove them 90 yards in 9 plays, capped by a 3-yard run from Brandon Mayes (15 carries, 102 yards) for a 13-6 lead.
Aurora Christian struck quickly right before halftime. Maddie again hooked up with Windle on a 33-yard touchdown pass, this one a backbreaker coming on 4th-and-24 with just 37.7 seconds left in the half to make it 21-6.
After the Green Wave's opening march, the Eagles outgained them 248 yards to 33 to end the first half.
"I think once we got up 21-6 it kind of took the wind out of their sails and from there we kind of took care of business," Beebe said.
That started on the second play of the second half when Maddie scrambled to keep a play alive long enough for Roberts to get behind the Green Wave's secondary for an 86-yard touchdown.
For the game Aurora Christian gained 519 yards, with Maddie leading the way completing 17 of 26 passes for 365 yards, 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He also ran for an 11-yard touchdown on a play that started with him breaking free from what looked like a sure sack for the Green Wave at the 20-yard line and staying on his feet to find his way into the end zone.
"We just showed a lot of the dynamics of the offense and how much we can do with it," Maddie said. "We were getting down field, we were able to convert on the third downs, the line was blocking good. It's always a goal to go into the game and score every time you get the ball. Eight for eight is great."
St. Edward found the end zone twice in the second half, once on a 4-yard touchdown pass by French to Luke Duffy and the other a 10-yard French run. But it was too little, much too late.
"Defensively we were holding them, they needed a couple third down and fourth down conversions," Rolando said of the first half. "We can't give up big third downs, big plays. After that we stated falling apart and lost our heart there relatively quickly. AC played a great game. Their athletes made plays and we didn't have enough of that."
"We knew this was a trap game for us," Beebe said. "We came off an emotional game last week winning conference. These kids have been waiting to play ACC eight years since I've been here. Everyone has been saying this is a game we should win. But we knew in the locker room that (St. Edward) was a good football team and we were not going to overlook them. We were going to play like it was a playoff atmosphere and our kids did."