GRANVILLE — Heath’s opening kick went out of bounds Friday, but Granville coach J.R. Wait wasn’t hesitant with his decision.
“We always make them re-kick,” he said. With good reason.
On the do-over, sophomore Patrick Chaykowski started to advance the ball, but instead pitched to Michael Reed coming the opposite way. The sophomore speedster turned the corner and raced 70 yards into the end zone, jump-starting the undefeated Blue Aces’ 42-20 win against the visiting Bulldogs.
“Our offensive line coach Todd Naille deserves credit for that one,” Wait said. “He handles our kickoff return, and he put that in this week. He was very confident with it, kicking off on the wet ground. We actually put it on the ground a couple of times in practice, so I was still a little scared.”
Turns out he had nothing to fear. Despite rain falling most of the game, Heath (2-1) couldn’t quite keep up with the Blue Aces (3-0) in an explosive first half. A little over three minutes later, Reed slipped tackles in the backfield and bolted 33 yards down the left sideline for another score on fourth-and-1. With nearly eight minutes still left in the first quarter, Granville already led 14-0 after the second of Drew Maxwell’s six consecutive PAT kicks.
After Heath punter Tyler Karr’s fourth-down pass was batted down in the secondary, Blue Aces’ freshman Brandon Haley got into the act. He turned a quick-hitter into a 55-yard TD run as Granville led 21-0 heading to the second. Thaddeus Winston ran 3 yards for another score before Bulldogs’ quarterback Aaron Latiolais got his team on the board with a 27-yard scoring run. But back came Haley, suddenly breaking out of a scrum at the line of scrimmage for a 73-yard TD.
“I thought he was down, then I look up and he’s 30 yards down the field,” said Granville center Grant Porterfield. “He’s just starting to show how good he is.”
“We knew he came in with a lot of physical talent, but he’s also a very tough kid,” Wait said. “He’s physical and fast.”
Guard Nick Kurek said the offensive line’s goal was to get Haley at least 100 yards. By halftime, he had 169 yards on just six attempts, finishing with 11 carries for 176 yards.
“He’s an amazing running back, and the past two games gave him a lot of confidence,” Kurek said. “Tonight gave a lot of people confidence.”
The Blue Aces barely had to throw, but Kyle Zies still hit Jack Peterson in stride on a 40-yard TD strike with just 19 seconds. Linebacker Jake Purdy set it up with an interception after Bob Compton deflected the ball up into the air, and Granville was cruising 42-7 at the break. Alex James added a second-half interception for Granville.
Latiolais and the Bulldogs didn’t quit, but the issue was pretty well decided. His 3-yard TD run with 8:02 left capped a 73-yard drive, keyed by sophomore Andrae Manning’s 26-yard run. Kordell Wiley later blocked a punt and Latiolais added an 18-yard touchdown. He finished with 30 carries for 136 yards. Tayte Duncan kicked 2-of-3 extra points.
“That’s a good football team and they’ll be competitive with every team they play,” Wait said. “Their quarterback is dynamite, and they have a young defense that will only get better. We kept our pads low and were able to run downhill.”