CANTON - Joe Reed twice turned tiny opportunities into big touchdowns to lead Sunbury Big Walnut to its first state football championship.
Reed scored on a 54-yard interception return and picked up his teammate's fumble and went 60 yards for the go-ahead score in a 17-10 win over Newark Licking Valley in the Division III title game at Fawcett Stadium yesterday.
"It was just one of those days when things bounced my way," Reed said after his second big play snapped a 10-10 tie in the fourth quarter.
With less than 10 minutes left, Cory Wolfe broke through the Licking Valley line for an eight-yard gain, then fumbled. The ball bounced right to Reed, who snared it on the run and never broke stride in taking it to the end zone.
"I was thinking, what's going on?" Reed said. "It was funny that he fumbled because the same thing happened last week and the ball came right to me and I scored from three yards. Weird."
The Golden Eagles recovered two fumbles and picked off three passes.
"It just wasn't meant to be," Licking Valley coach Randy Baughman said.
"We kept battling and if the game had gone another five minutes, I do think we would have scored."
Big Walnut (14-1), which had never advanced as far as the state semifinals before this season, managed only three first downs in the game and was outgained 322-109.
But Reed had 114 yards on his two big plays.
His interception return gave the Golden Eagles a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. The senior stepped in front of a pass from Drew Ryan, a second-team quarterback throwing a receiver-option pass. Reed ran down the right sideline to score.
Big Walnut converted another turnover into a 10-0 halftime lead on Andy Dronsfield's 33-yard field goal after a Licking Valley fumble.
Licking Valley (13-2) tied it in the third quarter with a safety, an eight-yard scoring run by Storm Klein and Nick Phillips' two-point pass to Vince German.
Klein gained 155 yards on 33 carries.