Trent Maddox found Caleb Gossett for a 13-yard touchdown with 25 seconds left and Olentangy blocked a potential game-tying field goal as time expired to notch a thrilling 23-20 league-opening win over host Westerville South Friday night.
The Braves, who trailed 20-15 after Wildcat quarterback Brayden White connected with Kaden Saunders for a 14-yard scoring strike with 5:47 to play, started their final drive of the game after recovering a fumble at the Westerville South 34 with 2:59 left.
It wasn’t a long drive, but it had plenty of big plays. Gossett picked up a fourth-and-one with a four-yard run and Zack Kershner converted a third-and-three with a strong five-yard effort of his own.
Maddox was sacked back at the Wildcat 13-yard line on the next play, but found Gossett for the game-winning score a play later.
Maddox completed 20 of his 36 passes for 212 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Kershner ran for a team-best 35 yards and Jace Middleton collected 73 yards and a touchdown on five receptions.
Olentangy Orange 30, Westerville North 7
The Pioneers started slow, but finished with a flourish en route to a convincing league-opening win over the visiting Warriors Friday night in Lewis Center.
North broke the scoring seal when Wyatt Buxton found Coby Darlington for a 13-yard touchdown with 6:44 to play in the second quarter, but never scored again.
Orange, meanwhile, only picked up steam as the game wore on. Jake Vanchieri powered into the end zone from nine yards out to bring his team within a point a little over a minute before the break. The Pioneers missed the PAT, but got on top for good as Jack Behre connected on a 36-yard field goal with 23 seconds left in the second.
They added three second-half touchdowns to seal the deal. Quarterback Spencer Hawkins hooked up with Nate Miller and Jack Fenton for third-quarter scores of 30 and 31 yards, respectively, and Vanchieri scored from a yard out early in the fourth to cement the final margin.
Hawkins completed seven of his 14 passes for 105 yards and the two TDs while Vanchieri ran for 107 yards on 25 carries to go with his two scores.
Olentangy Berlin 16, Hilliard Darby 12
The Bears continued their strong start to league play, improving to 3-0 against OCC-Cardinal opponents with a win over the host Panthers Friday in Hilliard.
Jacob Moeller gave Berlin its first lead 37 seconds before halftime, scrambling into the end zone from five yards out to make it a 7-6 game.
Darby went back up early in the fourth, 12-7 with a TD and failed two-point conversion, but the Bears had another answer, this time through the air as Moeller connected with Corey Hill for a 25-yard score to put his team up for good, 13-12 with 3:06 left in the third.
Jacob Lewis added the finishing touches with a 44-yard field goal with 44 seconds to play.
Moeller completed 19 of his 26 throws for 237 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Johnny Spinner led the Bears on the ground with 58 yards on 17 attempts and Jack Nebraska hauled in eight receptions for 110 yards in the win.
Worthington Kilbourne 36, Delaware Hayes 21
The Pacers went up 14-7 when Jahi Broussard-Nash found the end zone from 30 yards out with 1:15 left in the first quarter, but the host Wolves controlled things the rest of the way en route to a league win Friday night.
After Kilbourne went up 26-14 on an 11-yard run from quarterback Mitchell Tomasek, Broussard-Nash got Hayes back within striking distance with his second score of the game — a three-yarder to make it 26-21 with 4:29 left.
The Wolves owned the fourth quarter, though, adding to their lead with a 41-yard field goal off the foot of Joey Laudermilch and a scoop-and-score by Brian Wilson after a Hayes fumble with 2:58 to play.
Hayes QB Blake Eiland completed 14 of his 21 attempts for 88 yards and a score, Broussard-Nash had 19 carries for 131 yards and the two TDs and Nabil Abdus-salaam finished with three receptions for 30 yards and a TD in the setback.
Also: Big Walnut 37, Newark 16; Olentangy Liberty 17, Westerville Central 7