Olentangy Berlin’s Zach Caudill (22) and Aiden Eviston combine to tackle Olentangy’s Sam Uhlenhake during the first half of Friday’s OCC-Cardinal Division showdown in Delaware.

Ben Stroup | The Gazette

The Olentangy Berlin football team opened its defense of last fall’s OCC-Cardinal Division crown — the first in program history — with a solid 27-20 win over rival Olentangy Friday night in Delaware.

The Bears (5-1, 1-0), now winners of five straight, started strong and hung on late.

They led from the start, taking a first-quarter edge when Spencer Conrad drilled a 24-yard field goal. Harrison Brewster found Josh Gavin for a 29-yard TD connection in the second and, after the Braves cut into their 10-0 deficit with a 15-yard TD pass from Ethan Grunkemeyer to Jackson Wiley with 42 seconds left in the half, Alejandro Aguilar returned the ensuing kickoff into Olentangy territory to set up a quick Berlin answer — a three-yard TD run by Brewster to make it a 17-7 game with 19 seconds left until the break.

The Bears led 27-13 after three thanks to a 99-yard kickoff return from Aguilar and a 39-yard field goal off the foot of Conrad and, after the Braves made it a one-score game with an eight-yard hookup between Grunkemeyer and Riley Clarkson, the Berlin defense got a stop in the final minutes to secure the win.

Olentangy (5-1, 0-1) will look to bounce back Friday against visiting Thomas Worthington while Berlin will seek its sixth straight win when it travels to Hilliard to take on Darby. Both games are set to get underway at 7 p.m.

Delaware Hayes 31, Worthington Kilbourne 0

The Pacers bounced back from their first loss of the season in a big way, blanking the visiting Wolves in OCC-Capital Division action Friday night in Delaware.

After a scoreless first quarter, Hayes (5-1, 2-1) broke things open with a 24-point second.

The Pacers added another touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the finishing touches on the win over the winless Wolves (0-6, 0-3).

Jake Lowman led the charge on offense, completing 10 of his 19 passes for 184 yards and two scores — one to Garrett Brown and the other to Gavin Brinkmoeller.

Brown had two grabs for 99 yards and the score while Austin Koslow finished with four receptions for 47 yards. Brinkmoeller led the ground game, closing with 79 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Justin Mathews returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown while Jaxson Smith recovered a fumble in the win.

Next up, Hayes is slated to take on host Westerville South with first place on the line Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Olentangy Orange 17, Hilliard Davidson 14

The Pioneers scored a pair of second-half touchdowns to parlay a 3-0 halftime edge into a solid league win over the host Wildcats Friday night in Hilliard.

Orange (3-3, 1-0) led 10-0 after QB Levi Davis broke free for a 54-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The lead held into the fourth and, after Davidson (4-2, 0-1) took a brief edge with two scores — a 99-yard TD connection between Johnny DiBlasio and Turner Schmidt and a two-yard run from Keevin Gibbon — Davis hit Kobe Sharpe from four yards out to smooth out the scoring summary late in the final frame.

Davis completed nine of his 15 passes for 109 yards and a TD while running for a team-best 64 yards and another score. Sharpe was his top target, finishing with four grabs for 43 yards and his TD.

Gibbon, meanwhile, led the Wildcats with 26 carries for 108 yards and the fourth-quarter score.

Next up, Orange is slated to take on visiting Dublin Coffman. Kickoff is set for Friday at 7 p.m.

Big Walnut 42, Franklin Heights 7

Owen Pollock, Nate Severs and Brody Hatfield all had touchdown grabs as the Golden Eagles (2-4, 1-2) soared to a league win over the visiting Golden Falcons (1-5, 0-3) Friday night in Sunbury.

The game was never close as Big Walnut followed up a 21-point opening quarter with 21 more in the second.

Garrett Stover and Jake Nier both had rushing touchdowns to complement what the Eagles did through the air.

The defense was solid, too, finishing with four interceptions — two from Kyle Kline and one apiece from Austin Kawasaki and Eli Helton.

Big Walnut will look to make it two wins in a row when it travels to Worthington Kilbourne Friday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Buckeye Valley 49, Bexley 21

The Barons cruised to a win in their league opener, moving the ball at will en route to a lopsided CBL win over host Bexley Friday night.

Buckeye Valley (3-3, 1-0), with the game tied 7-7 after one, scored two touchdowns in each of the final three quarters to pull away from the Lions (2-4, 1-1).

Nathan Huss threw for three touchdowns while Matt Hall had two grabs — both touchdowns — for 127 yards.

Marcus Hemphill and Garrett Slater, meanwhile, anchored the ground game. Hemphill ran for 100 yards and two TDs while Slater finished with 99 yards of his own.

Next up, BV will take on host St. Charles Friday night in Columbus. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Dublin Coffman 24, Olentangy Liberty 14

The Patriots got off to a steady start, taking a 7-0 lead into the second quarter thanks to a three-yard TD run from Ryan Schapker, but the host Shamrocks scored 24 of the next 31 points to put the finishing touches on an OCC-Central Division win Friday night in Dublin.

Quinn Hart had a big night for Coffman (5-1, 1-0), finishing with 24 carries for 87 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed 11 of his 20 passes for 159 yards.

Quarterback Andrew Leonard led Liberty (1-5, 0-1), finishing 17-for-21 passing for 172 yards while Evan Nelson and Toby Gage finished with six and five receptions, respectively.

Liberty returns to action Friday night against visiting Upper Arlington. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.