JCU ripe for the picking

’Berg picks off five John Carroll passes in a huge 47-21 win.

PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS HU’s Michael Warden (7) celebrates his pick-six with teammates (from left) Nick Walsh, Trevor Summers and Cornel Clarke Saturday in Tiffin.

When told that you really can’t expect your defense to come up with five interceptions in a game against the No. 9 team in the nation, Heidelberg coach Scott Donaldson didn’t even hesitate.

“Yes,” the second-year Heidelberg coach said after a 47-21 thrashing of John Carroll at Hoernemann Stadium, “you can.”

Donaldson was joking. Probably.

Nonetheless, after victimizing Blue Streaks quarterbacks with five interceptions — two returned for touchdowns — there was an air of swagger among Donaldson and his players.

“We thought it’d be a breeze,” said Heidelberg cornerback Donovan Walker, who had a pair of second half interceptions, one of which he returned for a 52-yard pick-six. “And it was a breeze.”

Michael Warden duplicated Walker’s feat. He also intercepted two passes in the second half, and returned one 39 yards to the end zone.

“We have a good group of guys on that side of the ball. We play really aggressive,” said Warden, who celebrated his 21st birthday in style. “We showed (John Carroll) what we had today.”

And, for that matter, the Student Princes showed all of Division III.

The Student Princes never trailed, taking the lead after safety Jermaine Burket intercepted Anthony Moeglin late in the first quarter, and returned the ball to the JCU 17.

On the next play, back Cam Vocke took a direct snap and went around the right corner and into the end zone to go up 7-0.

“We needed to get off to a good start here,” Donaldson said. “That’ a really good team; that’s an experienced team.”

Indeed. The Blue Streaks are the defending Ohio Athletic Conference champion, and reached the Division III semifinals last season.

But on this day, Heidelberg took it to them.

“Right now we are a team still searching for an identity,” first-year JCU coach Rick Finotti said. “When I say ‘we’, it is players and coaches. It is a collective team effort, and we are trying to figure it out.”

John Carroll fell to 1-2, 1-1 in the OAC. And for the second time in three games, they replaced Moeglin in the second half with backup Riley Larkin. Moeglin was 15 for 26 for 175 yards, throwing two touchdowns and two interceptions. Larkin was 6 of 17 with a TD pass and three picks.

Heidelberg (3-0, 2-0) got another big game from quarterback Tyler Stoyle.

Stoyle wasn’t perfect. He threw one interception, which set up a John Carroll touchdown, and threw a pick-six in the second half that was negated by an offsides. But other than that, he was terrific, throwing touchdown two touchdowns passes to Demetrius Magee (7, 29 yards) and Tony Morris (73 yards). He completed 20 of 35 passes for 317 yards.

“Stoyle took over that game,” Donaldson said. “Tyler Stoyle said that he was gonna win this game on his back, and he did.”

Magee set a career record with 10 receptions for 109 yards. Morris had five catches for 135 yards. Vocke had 80 total yards of offense. HU’s Jace Grossman ran nine times for 67 yards.

John Carroll’s offense was paced by receiver Brian Kornowski, who had six catches for 116 yards.

Heidelberg has a showdown with Mount Union here in two weeks. But before that, it travels to New Concord to play Muskingum next week. The Muskies come in 1-2.

“Next week is, literally, the definition of a trap game,” Donaldson said. “We can’t sleep on (Muskingum).”

NOTES: Clyde graduate Austin Baker hit two 33-yard field goals for Heidelberg…John Carroll’s Eddie Williamson had two catches for 76 yards. One of those receptions went for a 32-yard touchdown. Arin Pruitt added a 2-yard scoring run, and Kody Kidd caught an 11-yard TD from Larkin in the fourth quarter…It was Heidelberg’s first win over a nationally-ranked team since it beat Otterbein in 2012. That was the year Heidelberg made the Division III playoffs…It was Walker’s second and third interceptions of his career, and his first pick-six.