Top-seeded Olentangy started fast and poured it on late, using a pick six in the third quarter and a pair of touchdowns in the fourth to put the finishing touches on a 38-21 Division I, Region 2 quarterfinal win over visiting and ninth-seeded Miamisburg Friday night in Lewis Center.
The Braves (11-1) were lights out late, but they weren’t bad early, either, jumping out to a quick 7-0 edge when Riley Clarkson found a crease up the middle and raced 65 yards for a touchdown less than two minutes into the action.
The teams traded empty possessions for the rest of the quarter, but that changed on the first play of the second as QB Ethan Grunkemeyer found Sam Uhlenhake for an eight-yard TD strike to balloon the advantage to 14-0.
Olentangy led by 17 at the break thanks to a 36-yard field goal off the foot of Matthew Tobias late in the half, but Miamisburg (8-4) showed some fight out of the locker room.
The Vikings scored on their first possession of the second half, making it 17-7 with an eight-yard TD run by Conner Smith and, after a stop, suddenly found themselves in position to make it a one-score game.
It never got that close, though, as the Braves’ Gavin Grover intercepted a screen pass on Miamisburg’s next possession and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown, making it a 24-7 game with less than five minutes left in the third.
“I try to help my team wherever I can,” Grover, who also starts at tight end, said. “I wasn’t starring on offense as much as I have in the past, so I tried to make an impact on the defensive side of the ball. I dropped a pick six last week and someone told me I would get one tonight … I guess it came to fruition.”
The Vikings had an answer, getting the score back when QB Landen Roberts found Jaden Bruton for a 23-yard TD on a fourth-and-eight play with 38 seconds left in the third, but that’s as close as things would get as the Braves’ big-play offense made one or two down the stretch to seal the deal.
The first — a 49-yard scoring strike from Grunkemeyer to Zach Griffith — made it 31-14 early in the final frame and, after Kevin Porter sacked Roberts on fourth down to give the ball back to the offense, Grunkemeyer hit Jackson Wiley for a 28-yard score to smooth out the scoring summary with a little more than five minutes to go.
Next up, Olentangy will take on 12th-seeded Springfield in Friday’s regional semifinal. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at a site to be determined.
Also: Uniontown Lake 21, Big Walnut 20, 3 OT; Olentangy Berlin 23, Perrysburg 7; Dublin Coffman 17, Olentangy Liberty 14.
“We have a great group,” Grover said. “The last two years haven’t been what we’ve wanted, but this year we’ve really got something special. We have great leaders, and that all comes from (second-year) coach (Wade) Bartholomew preaching leadership and doing things the right way. We aren’t super flashy, but we do things the right way, and that’s why we are where we are.”