DUBLIN — It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
It was a tale of two halves for the Olentangy High School football team when it traveled to Dublin Coffman Friday.
A strong first half for the Braves gave way to a less than ideal second half as the host Shamrocks scored twice in the fourth quarter, including a touchdown with 28 seconds to play to give the home team a stunning 22-16 come-from-behind victory. The loss dropped Olentangy to 1-3 on the season.
“They made some big adjustments in the second half,” Olentangy coach Mark Solis said.”They made some adjustments in the second half and made plays that we didn’t. I’m very proud of our kids and their effort, they played hard to the very end. But we really should have scored a couple more times. If we do that in the second half we win this game.”
The Braves played solid defense and punched the host Rocks in the mouth in the first half with a tactical ball-control offense led by junior quarterback Trent Maddox and senior running back Zach Shiblaq.
Short passes and hard runs through the teeth of the Coffman defense kept the potent Shamrocks offense off the field for the majority of the night.
Olentangy opened the scoring with a 40-yard scoring run by Shiblaq with 1:52 to go in the first quarter. The hard-nosed back took a handoff, broke a tackle just beyond the line of scrimmage and outraced the Shamrocks to the end zone.
A 2-point conversion run by Luke Riedel made it 8-0 OHS.
After a pair of 3-and-outs by Coffman and one by the Braves, Olentangy found itself pinned deep in its own territory early in the second quarter. OHS began to grind the ball against the Coffman defense.
The drive covered 97 yards and ate up nearly 9:00 minutes off the clock. It included a pair of fourth-down conversions by the Braves, including a 4th-and-1 at their own 13-yard line early in the drive. The second 4th-down conversion came at the Coffman 30, when Shiblaq busted up through the heart of the Coffman defense and raced into the end zone. A conversion pass from Trent Maddox to Ian Drummond put the Braves up 16-0 with 1:45 to play in the half.
Coffman (4-0) made a late-half trip deep into Braves territory, but the Rocks reached into their bag of tricks and got a big piece of coal. Shamrocks standout wideout Mike Drennen took a handoff and attempted a halfback option pass, but the Braves’ Jace Middleton picked it off in the end zone, bringing the Coffman drive to an end with just :08 left to go in the second quarter.
The home team seemed to awaken from its slumber in the second half when Cameron Kirk pounced on a Olentangy fumble at the Braves 30-yard line just two plays into the third quarter. A couple plays later Craig Smith carved up the Olentangy defense en route to a 24-yard scoring run. A successful PAT made it 16-7 with 9:52 to play in the third quarter.
Solis looked at that early turnover as a play that changed the makeup of the game.
“The turnover hurt, it was huge,” Solis said.
Coffman got another touchdown from Drennen with 6:08 to play in the fourth quarter. The score was set up by a 60-yard pass play a couple plays earlier.
The Braves were forced to give Coffman the ball back with 3:34 to go in the fourth quarter.
The home team marched to the 1-yard line and quarterback Ethan Brown plowed his way across the goal line with just :28 to play in the game. Coffman added a 2-point conversion for the final difference.