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Aurora Christian's Austin Bray returns an interception in the Eagles' first-round playoff win over Al Raby Friday in Aurora. Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
On the first play from scrimmage, Aurora Christian scored on a 72-yard pass play. It was off to the races after that, as visiting Raby had no answers. The Eagles rolled to a 49-12 win in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
Aurora Christian (9-1), beginning defense of its Class 3A title, will undoubtedly receive a tougher test when the Eagles take on the winner of Saturday’s matchup between North Boone and Suburban Christian Conference foe Immaculate Conception.
But this game was over not long after the opening touchdown, when Chad Beebe returned from injury for the first time since the fourth week and got behind the Raiders secondary. Quarterback Ryan McQuade hit Beebe in stride 30 yards downfield and Beebe sprinted for the 72-yard touchdown.
It appeared that Beebe wanted to make up for the five weeks he was sidelined. Only four minutes later, after the Eagles defense held on downs, Beebe once again found himself behind the Raby secondary. McQuade rewarded him again with a 26-yard scoring strike.
Beebe, a Northern Illinois recruit, wasn’t done. He got open in the left corner of the end zone and McQuade found him for an 8-yard touchdown. The Eagles led 21-0, only 7:47 into the game, and Beebe’s night was basically over after one quarter. He finished with four receptions for 113 yards and three touchdowns.
“It was great to get Chad back — what a great comeback for him,” said McQuade. “Our guys ran great routes, and I had time to throw thanks to the great blocking by the line.”
Raby (6-3) and its talented quarterback Chris Covington were unable to stop the onslaught. Covington was intercepted by Joel Bouagnon, the first of two picks by the Burlington Central transfer, and Bouagnon took the ball 28 yards the other direction. From there, McQuade (7 of 10 passing for 166 yards and four touchdowns) tossed his fourth scoring pass of the quarter, this time a 21-yarder to Cory Windle on the first play after the turnover.
A hard hit by Legend Smith on the ensuing kickoff forced another turnover, and three plays later Brandon Mayes scored from a yard out to give the Eagles a 35-0 lead, still in the first period.
Bouagnon, who rushed for 91 yards on only seven carries, got into the scoring action in the second period. The senior scored on a 5-yard run, then made his second interception pay off with a 27-yard return to paydirt.
“Our defense knew our assignments, since we had four or five games of film and we studied hard,” said Eagles linebacker Jon Czerwinski. “We knew their quarterback (Covington) was a good runner, but we were able to corral him. We’ll be ready for the next round.”
Eagles coach Don Beebe had his reserves in midway through the second quarter, and he all but closed his offensive playback to keep his team’s score down.
“There have times when we’ve had a very good passing game, but not quite as good running. But this season we can excel in both phases of the offense, and that makes us tough to beat,” said Don Beebe.
Covington hit Maurice Earksines for a 36-yard touchdown late in the first half. He then hooked up with Terry McDonald on an 87-yard bomb on the first play of the second half. But the clock ran throughout the second half, allowing the Eagle reserves to get valuable experience and the team to look ahead to the next round.