Jacolby Maxwell had a first-half performance that many players would envy — for a season.
The Aurora Christian senior finished his regular-season career in style on his home turf, helping his Eagles gain playoff eligibility with a 49-35 Catholic League White victory over Leo.
Now the Eagles (5-4, 2-2) await their potential appearance in the postseason. Coach Dave Beebe said his team was right on the edge in playoff points.
Meanwhile, Leo (4-5, 1-3) missed a chance at a winning season, but fought until the end despite surrendering a big early lead.
Maxwell was the difference for Aurora Christian, which bounced back from a blowout loss the week before.
Quarterback Austin Bray threw sparingly while gutting out an injured ankle. But when he did put it in the air to Maxwell, he made it count.
The 5-9 wide receiver caught two passes in the first half, and both went for touchdowns — a 29-yarder in the first quarter and a 20-yarder in the second.
But Maxwell wasn’t done making an impact. Playing safety, he had three interceptions in the first half. Each time, the Eagles went on to score, and they led 35-7 at halftime.
“I’ve never had a night like that,” Maxwell said. “We had to play well. We needed this win badly.”
Also excelling in his final regular-season game was Nick Edlund. The workhorse tailback carried 23 times in the first half and ended with 155 yards on 34 rushes with two TDs.
“We just wanted to control what we could control,” Edlund said. “It was a really special night, so I had to leave it on the field.”
The Lions could have folded, but didn’t. They held on a goal-line stand, then got a 67-yard TD on a fumble recovery by Zuriel Cook. They added three scores in the fourth quarter: a 48-yard pass from Latrell Giles (101 yards rushing; 135 yards passing) to Cook, an 11-yard Giles run, and a 44-yard scamper by Tyler Gholston.
“We got behind early, so it took away from what we wanted to do,” Leo coach Michael Holmes said. “We didn’t have an answer for (Maxwell). But I’m proud of these guys for the way they fought. Latrell had a couple rough throws that (the Eagles) forced, but he’s one of the best in the Catholic League.”
Maxwell had an answer in the fourth quarter, a 31-yard touchdown catch that put his team up 49-23. His offensive production: three catches, three scores.
“It was nice to bounce back and get a win after the way things went last week,” Beebe said. “And the way the seniors played, they’re going to remember this game for the rest of their lives.”