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Aurora Christian quarterback Ryan McQuade (7) winds up to pass as Immaculate Conception defender James Janowski (21) arrives just to late for a sack. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Familiarity, in this case, breeds respect.
Don Beebe wasn’t just making “coach speak” earlier in the week when he said beating Suburban Christian Conference rival Immaculate Conception a second time this season would not be easy, despite prevailing 47-20 in their first meeting.
It wasn’t. Visiting Aurora Christian, on the strength of two Ryan McQuade-to-Cory Windle touchdown passes in the second half, held on for a 28-21 victory Saturday over the Knights.
It sends the defending champs to the third round of the Class 3A playoffs where they will host No. 9 seed Winnebago, a 56-20 winner over top seed Elmwood, most likely next Saturday.
“My hats off to IC. They played with so much heart and so much passion,” Beebe said of the (7-4) Knights, who led 7-0 and 14-0 early in the game. “They did a great job when nobody gave ‘em a shot. From one coach to another, I told (IC’s Bill Krefft) they could have won that game.”
The 10-1 Eagles simply had too many weapons. Senior running backs Joel Bouagnon and Brandon Mayes ran for 128 and 96 yards, respectively, while McQuade survived two interceptions and threw for 219 yards with seniors Windle (3-86) and Chad Beebe (5-99) accounting for most of them.
“Their two running backs are elite and Beebe and Windle are excellent receivers,” said Krefft. “It gives a defensive coordinator a lot to worry about.”
Bouagnon capped first-half scoring drives of 84 and 90 yards with touchdown runs of 19 and five yards to send the teams to the locker room at half tied at 14-all.
Sam Antes’ interception of a tipped pass on the game’s first possession stopped another long Eagles’ drive. The Knights then marched 84 yards on 11 running plays with Antes going in from four yards out for the opening score.
Running back Danny D’Angelo had a 29-yard scoring run sandwiched between Bouagnon’s touchdown runs.
“Bouagnon and Brandon Mayes are hard to bring down,” said Don Beebe, “and they’re relentless the way they run the football. We were running successfully (early) so they started going man-to-man with our outside guys (Chad Beebe and Windle) and we hurt them with that (when the receivers started getting open on double moves).
“I don’t have the statistics, but I’m guessing we were pretty balanced passing and running, which makes us effective.”
The Eagles rushed for 246 and passed for 219 and needed all 465 of their yards to hold off IC, which put up 330 yards with quarterback Dimitris Carr running for 80 and passing for 96.
Windle gave the Eagles the lead for good with 3:31 remaining in the third when he hauled in a McQuade pass over the middle and scored from 54 yards out, getting a key block late on the play from tight end Ryan Suttle.
“It’s the same play we ran last year [with the same results, the decisive score in a 35-28 regular-season win],” said Windle, who had the deciding score in this one too from 26 yards out with 10:21 left
in the fourth.
“The running game opened up the long plays.”
Adam Muellers scored on 5-yard pass from Carr to pull the Knights within the final margin with 2:56 remaining. Windle recovered the onside kick and Aurora Christian ran the clock down to six seconds remaining before turning it over on downs and Carr’s desperation pass from his own 29 fell incomplete.
“Our kids really grew, mentally and physically and we played tougher and were healthier for this one,” said Krefft, explaining the difference in the two matchups with the Eagles.