Centerville, Ohio — It was a cold and rainy night at Centerville. The Alter Knights hosted the Chaminade Julienne Eagles for a GCL Co-Ed rivalry that was being broadcasted on Thursday Night Lights. This rivalry game had a lot of drama in 2019.
Last season, C-J came into this game boasting an 8-1 record and the top seed clinched in the playoffs. The late C-J comeback was halted and the Knights were able to pull of the upset and improved to 6-4 which was good enough to make the playoffs. Alter would then play C-J in the first round of the playoffs the next week and they knocked off and stunned the top-seeded C-J Eagles again in back-to-back weeks.
Coming into this week 6 matchup to close out the season, C-J senior Kenyon Owens said he did feel like there was something to prove, and a chip on their shoulders after what happened last year.
After a pair of sacks on C-J’s opening drive, they were forced to punt. On Alter’s first offensive play, they handed it off to star running-back Branden McDonald. He broke three tackles and took it into the end-zone on his first carry.
When asked how it felt to break away and score on Alter’s first play, McDonald said, “Well it felt great and it felt like we were ready for the game from that point on.”
Alter got the ball back very quickly and McDonald wasted no time again. On Alter’s second offensive play, they handed it off to McDonald who took it 81 yards for his second rushing touchdown of the night. This put the Knights up 14-0.
After another C-J punt, Alter quarterback Brian Shane kept it himself on 3rd & 4 and took it the length of the field as he ran it back 70 yards for a touchdown. Alter’s hot start put them up 21-0 and in the driver’s seat of this game.
Late in the 1st quarter, a pass inference call on Alter gave the Eagles a huge gain. Then on 3rd down, C-J quarterback, Luke Chandler connected with Kenyon Owens to convert and make it 1st & Goal. On 4th & Goal, a jet sweep to Owens would put the Eagles on the board and cut the deficit to 21-7.
Then after another stop by the Eagles’ defense, they got the ball back and began driving. After a drop on 3rd & 6, Chandler delivered a dime to Owens on 4th down. Chandler’s deep ball was caught in the end-zone for Kenyon Owens’ second touchdown of the night and this brought C-J back within one possession.
“I told everyone that we are still in this game.” Said Kenyon Owens after his touchdown catch that electrified the sideline and brought the Eagles back into the game.
Alter got the ball back with limited time remaining in the half. But with the explosive offense the Knights posses, any time is too much time. On 3rd & 20, Shane rolled outside of the pocket and threw a strike to senior receiver Patrick Connor who burned the defensive back covering him. Connor hauled in the pass and took it to the house for a 56-yard touchdown right before halftime.
“My first read wasn’t open and I saw my receiver downfield had a little separation so I just bombed it,” said Alter quarterback Brian Shane. “It felt great to extend the lead because it helped swing the momentum back towards us going into the half.”
Then the Alter special teams made an impact. Kicker Jack Ruffolo lined his kickoff off of a C-J player. The kick was recovered by the Knights and that gave Alter another chance to score with great starting field position. After a defensive stand, C-J forced a field goal. That field goal was blocked and that ended the half as Alter led 28-14.
Branden McDonald got the second half started with a bang. The senior took a handoff to the house on just the third play from scrimmage. This gave the Knights a 35-14 lead and felt like a dagger to C-J.
“Going into the second half, the captains and I told the team that it’s 0-0,” said McDonald. “We need to come out like it was the start of a new game and if we hit them hard on offense and defense that we will pull the game away.”
After a long drive that took up most of the 3rd quarter, Brian Shane capped it off with a short run to the outside and into the endzone for this third touchdown of the game. This score extended Alter’s lead to 42-14.
Then to begin the 4th quarter, Ohio State commit C.J. Hicks forced Luke Chandler to fumble. The ball was recovered by Nolan Meyer who grabbed it while his knees were touching the ground. That was the only thing stopping Meyer from a scoop and score touchdown as there was no one in front of him.
Alter than added onto their lead even more as the running clock began after a two-yard touchdown from Antonio Murphy. C-J ended off the game with a late touchdown by freshman Amare Lattimore who is the younger brother of West Carrollton guard Allen Lattimore.
With his huge performance, Branden McDonald is now the all-time leading rusher at Alter with 3,331 career yards. He also set the single-game rushing record at Alter with his 250+ yard and 3 touchdown performance on Thursday.
When asked how it felt to have those accomplishments, McDonald said, “It feels great to leave a legacy and a mark to my school. I just do it all for my school, family, and loved ones who no longer here with us. But I feel the same as if when I started my first snap sophomore year.”
Alter improves to 4-2 (4-1, GCL Co-Ed) and will have a first-round bye in the playoffs before taking on the winner of Dunbar and Aiken. Chaminade Julienne falls to 2-4 (1-4, GCL Co-Ed) and will host Cincinnati Northwest next Friday at 7.