It was one of those days for the Ohio Wesleyan football team.
Had the Battling Bishops won – the close to three hours they spent in weather delays would not have mattered a bit. But, a loss just makes for a long day at the stadium.
David Hoyle kicked a 24-yard field goal with 5:10 left and Niall Lawson blocked a game-tying 25-yard field goal attempt with 6 seconds left to give Otterbein a 10-7 win over OWU in non-conference action Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Westerville.
OWU cornerback Natrone Barnes picked off two passes and scooped up a fumble and returned it 43 yards to Otterbein’s 29-yard line with 2:29 remaining.
OWU used its final timeout with 45 seconds left after Jax Harville ran for 3 yards to the 8 to set up a third-and-1.
Harville tried again, but was stopped for no gain by Dassan Jefferson and the clock ran.
“It was a designed run,” OWU coach Tom Watts said. “We were trying to get that yard – stick our nose in there. It wasn’t the right play as far as the execution of it. But, it was the heat of the moment, things were going crazy – he was trying to get a yard. That’s what we called and we’ll live with it as far as that goes.”
OWU rushed its special teams on the field and snapped before Lawson came around the left edge, dove and blocked Gabe Philhower’s 25-yard, game-tying field goal attempt with 6 seconds left.
Barnes’ fumble recovery was the third big defensive play he made for the Bishops (0-1).
“We think he’s the best corner in the conference,” Watts said. “We really believe that. He made a nice play – we wish he could have scored (on the fumble return). But, he made a heck of a play and put us back in the ballgame.”
He’s coming back from hernia surgery he had in the spring.
“I tried to shake someone with it and get to the end zone, but I got run down,” Barnes said. “I gotta get a little bit faster.”
Barnes intercepted a Steven Irwin pass at OWU’s 22 with 30 seconds left in the first half as Otterbein tried to extend its seven-point lead before the break.
Barnes also intercepted Bryce Hall in the end zone late in the third quarter after Otterbein used 10 plays to go 54 yards.
“They had trips to the left side and one receiver to the right,” Barnes said. “They did double ins and a corner route from the slot receiver and I ended up picking up the corner route. We were in a cover-three, so that put me in a good position to make a play.”
Otterbein took the lead on a Dakota Smith 3-yard touchdown run with 12:18 left in the second quarter.
OWU’s defense held Otterbein to a three-and-out after a Jax Harville interception when it was determined that lightening was within 10 miles of the stadium, halting play at the 10:15 mark of the second for a delay that would last an hour and 10 minutes.
Neither team was able to muster much of an offensive threat when play resumed, combining for just three first downs the remainder of the half and five first downs until Otterbein was finally able to move the ball late in the third.
OWU finally got its offense going in the fourth after a 7-yard run by Jesse Beachy and 15-yard pass from Harville to Deji Adebiyi got the Bishops into Otterbein territory.
Then, more lightning. This time play was halted for an hour and 44 minutes.
“It was a crazy game,” Watts said. “I’ve never been a part of two lightening delays. In my whole football career, I’ve been a part of one. So, that was insane. But, the guys responded well.”
Six plays after play resumed, Harville found Sasoun Tcholakian on a fly route on the right side for a 35-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.
The Cardinals (1-0) accounted for 211 yards of total offense, just one more yard than the Bishops.
OWU has a bye week next week before opening North Coast Athletic Conference play against Wooster Sep. 15 at 1 p.m. at Selby Stadium.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.