It’s a new year, but two-time defending Class A (Private) state champion Eagle’s Landing Christian looks as dominant as ever.
The No. 1-ranked Chargers piled up 550 total yards and overcame 120 yards in penalties, beating No. 3 Wesleyan 45-6 Friday night in McDonough.
ELCA (6-0, 2-0 Region 5-A Private) won its 28th straight game, a streak that includes three wins over the Wolves, whom they beat twice in 2016.
ELCA’s defense bent, then bent some more, then bent some more before holding the third-ranked Wolves (5-2, 2-1) out of the end zone until the game was no longer in doubt.
Josh Mays rushed for 180 yards on 18 carries for ELCA, which amassed 432 rushing yards. Mays would have gone over 200 had an apparent 72-yard touchdown stood up, but it was called back on a block in the back penalty.
“Wesleyan’s a great team,” Mays said. “They have a really good quarterback and great receivers When you beat a team like that it give you confidence you can beat anybody.”
Wesleyan quarterback Banks Ramsey passed for 191) but was intercepted three times, including twice in the end zone in the first half, ELCA built a 21-0 lead.
Ramsey had completed 68.9 percent of his passes through the Wolves’ first six games, and completed 13 of his first 15 passes Friday night, but was picked off almost as many times by the Chargers, three, as in Wesleyan’s first six games combined (four). He finished with 191 passing yards, including the Wolves’ lone touchdown, a 15-yarder to Stewart Stamper.
Wesleyan ran 10 plays and drove 57 yards on the opening drive before ELCA’s Keaton Mitchell intercepted a Banks Ramsey pass in the ELCA end zone.
The Chargers then went 82 yards in seven plays, scoring on Braden Rush’s 32-yard pass to Sean Queen.
ELCA pushed it to 14-0 on its next series when Justin Menard ran 43 yards for a touchdown.
Wesleyan put up another long drive in the second period, taking 14 plays to move from their own 24 to the Chargers’ 1-yard line, but Ramsey was tackled for a loss on first down and threw two incomplete passes before ELCA’s Jack Buckley came down with a tipped ball in the end zone to end the threat.
“We let them get down there but when the going got tough we stood strong,” Buckley said. “It was definitely a collective effort tonight. It’s a big win for us. We’ve just got to make sure we don’t get complacent.”
The Chargers were thwarted in a long drive of their own, moving 57 yards in 12 plays to the Wesleyan 23 midway through the second period before coming away empty.
After ELCA forced a punt, the Chargers marched 75 yards to their third score, Rush’s 3-yard run with 12 seconds left in the half.
ELCA removed any drama with a 17-point third quarter, and the fourth period was played under a running clock.
“We talked about chopping wood and bending but not breaking,” said ELCA coach Jonathan Gess. “That’s kind of how we play defense. We could be more aggressive, but we bend and we don’t break. They keep fighting.”
Wesleyan 0 0 6 0 – 6
ELCA 14 7 17 7 – 45
E – Brayden Rush 32 pass to Sean Queen (Austin Reed kick)
E – Justin Menard 43 run (Reed kick)
E – Rush 3 run (Reed kick)
E – Rush 2 run (Reed kick)
E – FG Reed 24
W – Banks Ramsey 15 pass to Stewart Stamper (kick blocked)
E – Rush 27 pass to Menard (Reed kick)
E – Queen 53 run (Reed kick)