By ANDREW DYRDAL | Photos by ANDY COLLIGNON
Battle Ground Academy clinched its third district championship in four years on Friday with a decisive 38-7 win at rival Franklin Road Academy.
BGA forced three turnovers and took one interception 50 yards for a touchdown in the lopsided win, which also secured home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
“I’m just really proud,” BGA coach Roc Batten said. “This was a big game for us on a lot of fronts. No. 1 it’s FRA and we had a lot at stake tonight. It’s big for our team and for our entire program.”
The turning point came early in the game when BGA went three-and-out on its first possession and allowed a long FRA drive. FRA, starting at its own 30-yard line, completed a 32-yard pass to Canaan Catlett to open the drive and used nine plays to march down the field to BGA’s 4-yard line. Facing fourth-and-1 from the four, FRA opted to kick a field goal but missed the 21-yard attempt.
BGA seized the opportunity and quickly competed a screen pass to Oliver Reese, who ran 74 yards for a touchdown to give BGA a 7-0 lead.
“Our blockers are amazing,” Reese said of his touchdown reception. “We’ve had so many injuries this year and the fact that we have guys stepping up and blocking like that – I just had to run.”
FRA then fumbled three plays later in its own territory and BGA connected on a 35-yard field goal extend their lead to 10 late in the first quarter.
“We capitalized on some of their turnovers and made some plays,” Batten said. “I thought our kids were fighting and competing and it was a great win for our program.”
FRA’s next possession also ended in a costly turnover when Briston Bennett intercepted a screen pass to the flat and returned the ball untouched 50 yards for a touchdown and 17-0 lead.
After the teams failed to score on the next two possessions, FRA threw another interception, this time to Bo Jewell. BGA’s Jake Halloway scored on a 28-yard run moments later to extend the lead to 24-0 with two minutes and 31 seconds left in the half.
FRA lost a fumble after receiving the kickoff – its third turnover in four possessions – but BGA was unable to capitalize this time, turning the ball over on downs on fourth-and-5 from the 40.
The second half featured fewer ups and downs, as each team had only one offensive possession, and FRA opened the frame with a 13-play drive that resulted in a punt.
BGA responded with a 13-play drive of their own but ended it with a one-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Frierson on the first play of the fourth quarter.
BGA scored again just over two minutes later when Jewell caught a pass on the sideline and broke multiple tackles on his way to a 24-yard touchdown and 38-0 lead.
FRA finally got on the scoreboard when quarterback Eric Stoxstill-Diggs threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Lance Wilhoite with 2:36 remaining in the game.