There was a lot on the line for the Olentangy Berlin football team Friday night … and it played like it.
Jacob Moeller threw for 237 yards and three touchdowns and Johnny Spinner rushed for 147 yards and a couple scores of his own to lead the Bears to a convincing 36-13 win over visiting Thomas Worthington Friday night in Delaware.
It was one of the biggest games the young program has played to date. For starters, Berlin (6-4, 5-2 OCC-Cardinal) was celebrating its first Senior Night in school history. The Bears were battling for a potential playoff spot, too, and even had an outside shot at nabbing a share of the OCC-Cardinal Division championship if everything went their way … this after not winning a single league game in their inaugural season a year ago.
Well, the share of the league title didn’t work out — outright champ Dublin Jerome made sure of that by cruising past Worthington Kilbourne in its finale — but the playoff spot is still very much in play.
Moeller broke the scoring seal with a 12-yard TD pass to Corey Hill midway through the first quarter and, after Thomas (4-6, 3-4) got within a point, 7-6, with a 19-yard touchdown connection between QB James Gaiters and Reese Dykstra, Moeller pushed his team’s lead to 14-6 with a 30-yard pass to Jalen Weitzel late in the half.
A safety made it 16-6 in the final minute of the second and the Bears outscored the Cardinals 20-7 in the second half to smooth out the scoring summary.
Berlin started the night ninth in the Division II, Region 7 computer ratings. Now, the Bears have to wait to see if the win was enough to bump them up a spot or two and into the postseason.
Olentangy Orange 42, Westerville South 24
Michael Mansaray scored from four yards out to bring the host Wildcats within a score, 17-14 with 7:22 left in the third, but the Pioneers outscored them 25-7 the rest of the way to put the finishing touches on their second straight OCC-Buckeye Division title Friday night in Westerville.
Orange (9-1, 5-0 OCC-Buckeye) QB Spencer Hawkins had a huge night, throwing for 218 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 38 yards and a couple more scores.
Jake Vanchieri was no slouch himself, rushing for 151 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Mansaray led the Wildcats (6-4, 2-3) with 98 yards on the ground in the setback.
Olentangy Liberty 35, Westerville North 0
Jackson Roberts threw for two scores and Brennan Rowe added two more on the ground as the Patriots (9-1, 4-1 OCC-Buckeye) rolled to a win over the visiting Warriors (1-9, 0-5) in Friday’s regular-season finale.
The Liberty defense wasn’t bad, either, forcing a couple turnovers and limiting North to just 86 yards of total offense.
A.J. Rausch had a big night, collecting 142 receiving yards and a touchdown on five grabs. Dom Magistrale also had a TD reception in the win.
Canal Winchester 28, Big Walnut 13
The host Golden Eagles moved the ball just fine, finishing with 312 yards of total offense, and the defense got three takeaways, but they could’t turn opportunities into points enough as the Indians pulled away for a win in Friday’s regular-season finale.
Jack Beeler threw for 204 yards and two TDs and Stephan Byrd ran for 177 yards and two more touchdowns to lead Canal (9-1, 4-1 OCC-Capital).
Jagger Barnett and Tyler Crotinger accounted for Big Walnut’s (4-6, 2-3) points. Barnett made it 7-6 with a 25-yard run midway through the third quarter and Crotinger found the end zone from 35-yards out to pull his team within eight, 21-13 with 11:11 to play in the game.
Whitehall-Yearling 40, Buckeye Valley 30
Andy Anthony scored from a yard out to give the Barons a 30-26 edge early in the fourth quarter, but the host Rams got it done down the stretch to smooth out the regular season with a win.
Anthony was big for BV (1-9, 1-6 MSL-Ohio), firing touchdown passes to Alex Contreras and Dalton Dodds to keep things close in the first half, but Whitehall (6-4, 4-2) played from in front most of the night.
Felipe Scharff sliced an early Baron deficit in half with a 25-yard field goal midway through the first quarter.
After the Rams answered with a five-yard TD run by Nate Legg, Anthony hit Contreras for a 64-yard scoring strike to tighten things up again.
And that’s how it went most of the way, with both teams coming up with answers when they needed them most.
Anthony hit Dodds for a 45-yard score to make it 19-17 in the second and then found Contreras from 10 yards out to make it 26-23 midway through the third, setting up the back-and-fourth final quarter.
Hilliard Bradley 21, Delaware Hayes 17
Quarterback Blake Eiland had a big night for the Pacers, rushing for 138 yards and two TDs, but Jaguar QB A.J. Mirgon threw for three scores, the last to Evan Yee from nine yards out with 29 seconds to play, to lead his team to a 21-17 win Friday night in Delaware.
Eiland’s second touchdown of the night — a 40-yard run — gave Hayes (3-7, 1-6 OCC-Cardial) a 17-14 lead with 3:36 left in the fourth quarter.
Bradley (4-6, 4-3) had an answer, though, moving the ball 80 yards to cement the win with the short strike from Mirgon to Yee in the final minute.
Also: Westerville Central 41, Olentangy 7