After beating the No. 1 team in the state a week before, it would’ve been easy for Holy Innocents’ to suffer a letdown when they traveled to Wesleyan to take on the No. 5 Wolves Friday.

It didn’t happen.

Using a strong defense in the first half and a ball-control offense in the second, the Bears — now 5-0 — dominated the previously unbeaten Wolves with a 31-0 win on the road, breaking a five-game losing streak to Wesleyan. 

Two interceptions helped give HI a 17-0 cushion at half. The final 24 minutes saw Wesleyan’s offense on the field for only two possessions as the Michael Cox-led running attack overwhelmed the home team. 

It started slow, with both teams punting it away most of the first quarter. Late in the stanza, however, Landon Kardian intercepted a Wesleyan pass on their 31. Three runs from Cox and another by Matt Davis put it to the 4 before Cox rolled in to make it 7-0.

On Wesleyan’s next possession, this time it was Sam Aiken picking off a Wolf pass at the Wesleyan 27. The Bears’ drive stalled, but Peter Wandtke delivered with a 39-yard field goal to put HI up 10-0. 

The Bears tacked on their final first half touchdown on a 50-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard run from TyQuann Alexander. Cox was a workhorse on the drive, gaining over 25 yards on the march.

The Bears got the ball first in the second half and almost never let go. HI went on a 15-play, 80-yard march that used up nearly eight minutes before scoring a touchdown. Cox carried it 11 of the plays and finished with a 10-yard score to give the Bears a 24-0 cushion.

The final drive was 76 yards, which began in the third quarter and moved well into the fourth. Cox carried it nine times, including the final 6 yards for the score. He finished with three touchdowns after scoring five last week in the win over Eagle’s Landing.

Besides Kardian and Aiken’s interceptions, Griffin McKinnis and Hunter Hawk were two who kept coming up big. Wesleyan’s only threat was a long pass play that reached the Bears’ 4-yard line late in the first half but the play was called back due on a penalty.

Friday’s win over Wesleyan followed an historic overtime effort Sept. 20 against No. 1-ranked Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy.

It was a Charger missed extra point that proved the difference in overtime, as Holy Innocents’ prevailed 42-41. 

Down two touchdowns midway through the third quarter, the Bears went 65 yards in nine plays to cut the lead to 7. Quarterback Matt Davis finished the march off on fourth-and-goal from the 3 with an off tackle run for the score. 

On the Chargers’ ensuing possession, Golden Bear cornerback Leighton Dickson knocked down a fourth down pass, setting up the tying HI score. Jack Felton bolted for a 16-yard run on fourth-and-6 all the way to the 3. Michael Cox bulled over from there to knot things at 28 with 10:55 left.

After forcing the Chargers into another turnover on downs, HI got the ball at their own 49, where Cox this time raced 51 yards to give Holy Innocents’ their first lead since the opening quarter.

Eagle’s Landing got the ball inside of two minutes, and the Chargers needed only one play to go 73 yards to tie the game at 35. That’s where it stood at the end of regulation.

In overtime, it took the visitors only two plays to go the 15 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, but the extra point sailed wide left. Still, the Bears lost 3 yards on their first play and eventually faced a third-and-10.

Davis came up big again with a scamper to the Chargers’ 3. From there, it was Cox again bulling it into the end zone. Kicker Peter Wandtke took care of things from there, as he remained perfect on the year in PATs.

The student body, friends and family stormed the field as the ball split the uprights, and the Riverwood field became a sea of red and gold. 

This Friday, Oct. 4, the Bears host Mt. Vernon in the first varsity game played at Baker Field. Kickoff will be at 4:30 p.m.

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