Sep. 17—There wasn't much the John Carroll football team did wrong on Sept. 17 while searching for its 10th straight Cuyahoga Gold Bowl win against crosstown rival Baldwin Wallace.
There was one, but well after the Blue Streaks' 21-7 Ohio Athletic Conference victory at Don Shula Stadium.
While accepting the Gold Bowl with a smile from ear to ear, interim coach Drew Nystrom nearly dropped the trophy.
"Hey, he's never held it before," said JCU tight end Tadas Tatarunas of Mentor.
His players came to the rescue and rest assured the Gold Bowl trophy is intact. Nystrom and the Blue Streaks have it secured and will keep it another year — their 10th straight victory in the series.
"It's a really special feeling," said Nystrom, whose first-ever head coaching win won't soon be forgotten. "I'm proud of what they've done today."
As for nearly dropping the trophy, Nystrom said with a smile: "If that's what you're doing wrong, it's a pretty good day."
The defense intercepted three passes in the second half — a pick-six by JonMarcus Roland with 2 minutes to play — Evan McVay rushed for 101 yards and a TD and Tatarunas had a big game en route to the rivalry win.
JCU (1-1, 1-0 OAC) started fast after it took the opening kickoff. Tyler Mintz of Kenston took that kickoff 40 yards near midfield, and then McVay's running put the Blue Streaks in position at the BW 17.
On the next play, QB Joe Collins (13 of 21 for 157 yards and no turnovers) executed a play fake to McVay, got the BW defense thinking one way and went the other to a wide-open Tatarunas in the flat. Tatarunas (four catches, 54 yards) did the rest untouched for his second TD of the season.
"Coach told us we were going to get the ball first," said Tatarunas. "We wanted to make a big play, start the game off strong. It was really important for us to score first to give us some confidence."
Just 90 seconds into the game, the Blue Streaks led, 7-0, and after BW was stopped on its first drive, they were looking for more. Poor field position prevented that.
Its second drive started on its own 1, and while it got a first down, there was little else on that drive after that for JCU.
The Blue Streaks were in position for another score, and moved into the red zone in the second quarter but a Grant Gonya field goal hit the left upright and fell the side.
The team went into halftime with the Blue Streaks up, 7-0, and racked up 173 yards to just 101 for BW.
BW's all-time leader rusher Jon Murray Jr. was limited in the first half to 14 yards on six attempts. It didn't get much better for Murray in the second half and he was total 27 yards on 10 carries for the game.
As a team, the Yellow Jackets (1-2, 1-1 OAC) and their rushing attack were limited well below their average — 120 yards on 32 attempts.
"Challenged (the defense) to improve their tacking after Week 1 (a loss to Washington & Jefferson) and they responded," said JCU defensive coordinator Jeff Long. "It was really exciting to see the youth grow up a little bit. We saw 11 guys that were willing to stick together for 60 minutes."
BW struggled to sustain drives but when it went to backup QB Reese Wamer in the third quarter, its running game got going. The Yellow Jackets drove inside the JCU 10 but on fourth down, a tipped pass was intercepted by Dohntay Williams.
BW's lone TD was a 64-yard pass from Joey Marousek to Mike Love with a little more than two minutes to play. The Yellow Jackets outgained JCU in total yards, 342-314.