The Delaware Hayes football team used a second-half surge to get back into things, but Jay Jay Jones’ fourth-down sack short-circuited the rally with less than two minutes to go as visiting Canal Winchester held on for a 24-21 OCC-Capital Division win Friday night in Delaware.
The win helped the Indians (9-0, 6-0) secure an outright league title — a crown the Pacers (7-2, 4-2) would have been in position to potentially share with a win of their own.
Hayes, down 21-7 at the break, turned defense into offense to make it a one-score game. A few plays after Justin Matthews intercepted a pass to set the offense up at its own 36, quarterback Jake Lowman found Gavin Shears — who made a contested catch from his back — for a 43-yard TD strike to make it a 21-14 game with 5:43 to play in the third.
The Indians answered with a 35-yard field goal a minute into the fourth before the Pacers got a little closer on the ensuing possession thanks to a quick pass from Lowman to Gavin Brinkmoeller.
Lowman, with a free blitzer bearing down, flipped a throw to Brinkmoeller, who outran the entire Canal defense to the end zone to pull his team within three, 24-21, with 9:32 left.
Thanks to some big-time defensive plays and costly penalties over the course of the final five minutes of so, though, that’s as close as things got.
Lowman completed 15 of his 25 passes for 248 yards and two TDs. Garrett Brown was his top target, finishing with five grabs covering 92 yards, while Logan Frye anchored the defense with a team-best 13 tackles.
Hayes, which still has a ton to play for, will look to rebound Friday night against host Franklin Heights.
“These guys still have a lot ahead of them,” Pacer coach Ryan Montgomery said. “This school has only had one eight-win football team … we have an opportunity to go to Franklin Heights and try and do that. We’ve never had a playoff victory … and this team has an opportunity to do that, too. I think we’ll be dangerous in the playoffs. I really like our chances.”
Olentangy Berlin 34, Marysville 14
The Bears took their show on the road, coupling a balanced offensive attack with solid defense to pull away from the host Monarchs en route to clinching at least a share of their second straight OCC-Cardinal Division championship Friday night in Marysville.
Berlin, which has now won eight straight, improved to 8-1 overall and 5-0 in league play. A win over visiting Thomas Worthington on Friday would secure the title outright.
Marysville (4-5, 2-2) started well, taking an early 7-0 lead when Matt Krutowskis found the end zone from two yards out.
The Bears answered in a big way, though, piling up 34 unanswered points to all but seal the deal.
Spencer Conrad got Berlin on the board with a 45-yard field goal before the special teams made another play — Cal Armstrong recovered a blocked punt in the end zone later in the first — to put it up for good.
Harrison Brewster, who finished with 114 yards on the ground and another 108 through the air, used a pair of rushing touchdowns — a short three-yarder and a much, much longer 76-yard sprint — to balloon the Bears’ lead to 24-7 by halftime.
Mason Ziegler scored from 17 yards out in the third before Conrad smoothed out Berlin’s scoring summary the same way he opened it: with a field goal, this time from 26 yards out.
Big Walnut 37, Dublin Scioto 0
The Golden Eagles poured it on early, parlaying a 30-point first half into a lopsided league win over the Irish Friday night in Sunbury.
Big Walnut (4-5, 3-3), which rushed for 272 yards as a team, set the tone early with a heavy dose of Nate Severs, who had 181 of those yards to go with three touchdowns, including two in the first quarter.
His final score, a one-yarder in the third, made it a 37-0 game.
BW quarterback Jake Nier threw just 10 times, completing five for 64 yards. Brody Hatfield was his top target, finishing with three receptions for 49 yards.
Next up, Big Walnut, needing a win and likely a little help to get into the playoffs, will take on undefeated and host Canal Winchester Friday night.
Hilliard Bradley 28, Olentangy Orange 7
The Jaguars got four touchdown passes from Bradyn Fleharty and five interceptions from the defense to drop the host Pioneers Friday night in Lewis Center.
Orange (4-5, 2-2), played from behind throughout as Fleharty’s 28-yard TD pass to Preston Wolfe, who was on the receiving end of all four of the scoring strikes, put Bradley (9-0, 4-0) up for good.
Grant Winder’s fumble recovery in the end zone sliced the Pioneers’ deficit in half in the third, but the Jaguars used two fourth-quarter TDs to account for the final margin.
Colin Stringer led Orange with 14 carries for 63 yards while Fleharty completed 10 of his 22 passes for 132 yards and the four touchdowns to account for most of the Bradley offense.
Next up, the Pioneers will take on rival Olentangy Liberty in Friday’s regular-season finale.
Hilliard Davidson 10, Olentangy Liberty 6
Andrew Leonard hit Wilson Roberts for a five-yard touchdown late in the first half, accounting for all the scoring up to that point, but the host Wildcats rallied with a 10-0 second half to notch a hard-fought OCC-Central Division win Friday night in Hilliard.
The Patriots (2-7, 1-3) missed the extra point and never scored again.
Davidson (5-4, 1-3), meanwhile, landed what proved to be the knockout blow when Keevin Gibbon powered into the end zone from nine yards out with 10:49 left in the game.
Leonard completed 16 of his 24 passes for 156 yards while Ryan Schapker anchored the ground game with 77 yards on 12 carries.
Olentangy 35, Dublin Jerome 20
Ethan Grunkemeyer had a big night, completing 29 of his 38 passes for 428 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Braves to a solid OCC-Cardinal Division win over the host Celtics Friday night in Dublin.
Andrew Leech and Jackson Wiley were his top targets — Leech had nine grabs for 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Wiley’s nine receptions covered 199 yards. Wiley also had a touchdown while Riley Clarkson rushed for nearly 100 yards in the win.
Tight end Gavin Grover also had a nice game, hauling in six passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns.
Olentangy (8-1, 3-1) will wrap up the regular season Friday night against visiting Marysville.
Columbus Academy 41, Buckeye Valley 8
The host Vikings dominated the early going, racing out to a 27-0 lead en route to a convincing Central Buckeye League win over the Barons Friday night in Gahanna.
The Barons used a TD through the air and successfully pulled off the ensuing two-point conversion to make it a 27-8 game midway through the third, but couldn’t get any closer.
Next up, Buckeye Valley (4-5, 1-2) will smooth out the regular season with a showdown against host Whitehall Friday night.