Photo by Todd Thoenen
(NORTH CANTON, Ohio) – For the eighth consecutive year, Walsh defeated Malone on the gridiron by a score of 24-21 to retain possession of the Bankert-Gallagher Memorial Trophy Saturday evening. The Homecoming win was the first of the season for the Cavaliers. The Pioneers dropped to 2-6 on the season.
The Maroon and Gold wasted little time and opened the game with a touchdown on the opening drive. Aaron Male punched it in from a yard out to cap a seven-play, 69-yard drive with just 3:24 off the clock. He was just getting started as he ended up having one of his finest games of his career.
After Malone scored a pair of field goals sandwiched around a 31-yard field goal by Jacob Maloy, Male went off to the races and scored on a 65-yard run to put Walsh up 17-6 after Maloy's PAT.
The Pioneers then slowly chipped away at the Walsh defense and lead with Matt Blasiole giving the rivals' an 18-17 advantage after a pair of touchdown runs of seven and 53 yards. Malone elected to go for two point conversions in both instances with passes falling incomplete on each attempt.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Walsh answered the Pioneers' second touchdown with one of its own. This time it came through the air as Mitchell Ault connected with Marcus Smith from five yards out to put the Cavs back in front 24-18 with 9:48 to go in the third. The score was set up with a 46-yard pass to Male to the 12.
Malone added another field goal, this time from 47 yards out, at the beginning of the fourth quarter to come within three, but the Cavaliers' defense made sure they didn't get any closer.
On the next Pioneer drive, Tim Cook sacked Malone quarterback John Iacucci on consecutive plays. Alex Jones and Cody Meade added sacks later in the quarter with the latter inducing an intentional grounding penalty and a 10-second runoff in the final minute of the game.
Male finished the game with 153 yards rushing on 20 attempts for an average of 7.7 yards per carry. His 65-yard run was the longest offensive scoring play of the season. Male led the team in receiving with three receptions for 56 yards and 209 total yards.
The Cavaliers will look the build upon the momentum as they return to conference action when they host Ohio Dominican next week. Kickoff with the Panthers is set for noon on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.