Five hours and five minutes, which included two lightening delays that stalled action for just over two hours, 103 points, 953 total yards, 14 touchdowns, five turnovers, three missed extra points a field goal and a partridge in a pear tree.
Out of all of that, the biggest number was the 27-point deficit Olentangy faced with 10:35 left in the third quarter before it rallied for four unanswered touchdowns in a 52-51 thriller over Reynoldsburg Thursday night in Lewis Center.
“That’s why we work and why we never give up,” Olentangy coach Mark Solis said. “It says a lot about the character of our kids and it says a lot about the character of our coaches. We never gave up.”
The numbers don’t do it justice either.
Olentangy (3-0) has been a second half team dating back to last season, so if any team could pull off a comeback of that magnitude, it’s Olentangy.
Still, it seemed insurmountable when Reynoldsburg’s Dez Cooper intercepted Connor Haag and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown to put the Raiders (2-1) on top 51-24.
But, Olentangy rallied for four touchdowns, the last of which was a 5-yard run on a toss sweep by Ali Iverson with 32.6 seconds left. Josh Petrone’s extra point was the difference.
“When I saw that we were fourth-and-5 and they had like nine guys in the box, I could tell that we could get to the perimeter,” Solis said. “We told (Iverson) to trust your landmark, which was the numbers, and put your foot down and get vertical, which is what he did.”
Olentangy had turned the ball over on downs on its previous possession after Savon Pullie broke up a Haag pass that was in the hands of receiver Nathan Riedel with just over four minutes left.
Olentangy’s comeback seemed to have fallen short with no timeouts, but Deonta Mack and Braxtyn Baldwin combined on a hit on Reynoldsburg running back Cole Goodwin. Max Hall recovered the fumble at the 8 with 2:25 left to set up the go-ahead score.
Olentangy rushed for 318 yards led by Cam Kennedy (124 yards) and Sam Durst (111 yards). Each rushed for a touchdown in the third quarter. Zach Slade also rushed for a touchdown.
Haag threw for 169 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Caden Kaiser had a 38-yard touchdown reception and Haag found Riedel and Ian Drummond for a pair of 5-yard touchdowns.
Olentangy forced three of Reynoldsburg’s five turnovers in the 28-point rally, which included an interception by Kyler Severance.
“The one thing that we always will make sure that happens (at Olentangy) is that nobody will out-condition us in the fourth quarter … and (Reynoldsburg) was tired,” Solis said.
J.J. Cooper caught three touchdown passes for the Raiders, totaled 128 yards receiving and blocked a punt in the first quarter in the end zone that was recovered by Tyler Britton.
Nathan Barko threw for 272 yards, four touchdowns and a pair of interceptions for Reynoldsburg.
Tyler Frederick had a 74-yard touchdown and finished with 86 yards rushing for the Raiders.
Special teams played a major factor in the game. The Raiders missed three extra points on consecutive touchdowns and tried to chase the points with two failed two-point conversion attempts.
Marion Organ gave Reynoldsburg its second touchdown on special teams with a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Camby Goff also recovered a fumble on a kickoff in the second quarter that led to a 28-yard touchdown pass from Barko to Jordan Hay.
“I was getting frustrated – there were so many things that happened that were bad,” Solis said. “When you make those kind of mistakes, you’re not supposed to win these football games … but we still found a way.”
Oddly enough, it was a field goal by Petrone as time expired before the half that Solis said was the difference-maker.
Olentangy was faced with a similar situation in the second round of the playoffs last year where it had the ball inside the 10 going into the half and Solis elected to go for the touchdown, rather than taking the three points.
It worked out then, but it took a 52-yard field goal at the gun by Jacob Bell to knock of Toledo Whitmer.
This time, he took the points.
“The field goal was huge before the half,” Solis said. “If we don’t take the points there and we go for it and don’t get it, we don’t win this football game.”
It doesn’t get any easier for Olentangy as it travels to Dublin Coffman in non-league play next Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
Dublin Jerome 14, Orange 7
The Pioneers ran more plays and finished with more total offense, but turnovers prevented them from getting into the end zone until the fourth quarter as the host Celtics escaped with a non-league win Thursday in Dublin.
Orange finished with 246 yards and ran 58 plays, 12 more than Jerome, but four interceptions made it hard to get into any sort of a rhythm.
The Celtics, who managed just 237 yards against a stingy Pioneer defense, broke the scoring seal when quarterback Joe Dunnan hooked up with Matt Nesbit for a 67-yard touchdown pass with 11:51 left in the second quarter.
Neither team managed to score again until the 4:47 mark of the third, when Dunnan hit Nesbit for another long scoring strike, this time from 62 yards out, to give Jerome a 14-0 edge.
Orange (1-2) finally got on the board when J.D. Dayhuff connected with Zach Harrison for a 10-yard TD late in the fourth.
Dayhuff, who had been about as efficient as they come through two games, completed 13 of his 22 passes for 131 yards, the touchdown and four picks. Sam Almond and Trevor Collins were his top two targets, finishing with a combined seven grabs for 92 yards.
Graham Starn led the Pioneers’ rushing attack, finishing with 16 carries for 79 yards.
Dunnan and Nesbit were the Jerome offense. Dunnan completed seven of his 14 passes for 157 yards and the two TDs. Nesbit had three receptions for 140 yards and the two touchdown grabs.
Harrison led the Pioneer defense with 7.5 tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks.
See delgazette.com for expanded recaps and late results.