Canal Winchester pulls away from Berlin

By Chris Miles - For the Gazette

Well, you can’t win them all.

The Olentangy Berlin football team found things to be much more difficult in its second week of high school football action.

A week after rolling to a season and school-opening victory over Briggs, the Bears were unable to muster much of an offensive attack in a 27-13 loss at Canal Winchester Friday night.

The Winchester defense never allowed the visiting Bears to get into any type of groove when they had the ball. Indian defenders shut down the Berlin running game, making the visitors one dimensional and predictable.

On the other side of the ball, it was CWHS that was able to move the ball on the ground in the second half and pull away for the victory.

“They’re really fast and really aggressive .. I think their downhill play elevated our game,” Bears coach Mark Nori said. “I’m not saying we did a good job in any stretch of the imagination, but for our guys up front this was just their second varsity game.

“We’re going to have to grow and mature with the speed of the game, I think we took a step in the right direction tonight.”

Things started about as well as they could for the Bears (1-1). On the third play of the game, junior linebacker Corey Hill intercepted a pass thrown by Winchester’s Jack Beeler and raced 29 yards down the sidelines for a defensive score. A successful PAT by Jacob Lewis put the Bears up 7-0 just over a minute into the contest.

Winchester (1-1), however, bounced back a couple drives later, stringing together a collection of big plays, including a 24-yard run by Tyler Toledo. The Indians reached the doorstep of the end zone and bruising fullback Michael Wilson plowed in from 1-yard away, tying things at 7-7.

Berlin gambled on its next possession. On a 4th -and-1 at its own 45-yard line, it failed to pick up the first down giving the host Indians a short field.

CW wasted no time capitalizing, freshman Stephan Byrd took a handoff and raced 45 yards untouched through the heart of the Berlin defense for a touchdown, making it 14-7 Indians after the first quarter.

Lewis accounted for the Bears’ only points in the second quarter, connecting on a 45-yard field goal. Berlin was set up in CW territory when Hill intercepted his second pass of the game. The linebacker also had a fumble recovery.

“I thought our defense took a step in the right direction … we’re growing and I thought our kids dug deep tonight,” Nori said. “I thought they played hard for four quarters. It was a hot and humid night, but I thought we did a good job of putting that to the side and just playing.”

The Bears were opportunistic late in the first half. Winchester had an 82-yard touchdown wiped away due to a holding penalty with 1:39 to go in the quarter and was forced to punt. Berlin, which was aided by a pass interference penalty, was able to get into field-goal range and Lewis connected on a kick from 41-yards away.

The second half push that put the game away for the home team started when CW’s Logan Beckwith picked off a Jacob Moeller pass at midfield and returned it deep into Bears territory. Avery Musick kicked a 36-yard field goal to make it 17-13.

On Canal’s next possession, following a 3-and-out by the Bears, Byrd scored his second touchdown of the game on a 31-yard run with just over 3:00 to go in the third quarter. Musick added a short 25-yard field goal early in the fourth to extend the Indians’ advantage to 27-13.

Berlin will return to action Friday when it hosts St. Johns Jesuit.

By Chris Miles

For the Gazette