The Olentangy Orange football team leaned on its defense in the regular season — a season in which it finished 9-1 and won its second straight OCC-Buckeye Division championship.
Friday night, though, it was the Pickerington Central defense that took center stage as the Tigers rolled out to a 30-halftime lead on the way to a 44-0 Division I regional semifinal win over the Pioneers at Upper Arlington High School.
William Dukes set the tone, coming down with an interception on the first play from scrimmage and sprinting into the end zone for a pick six to make it 7-0 just 15 seconds into the action.
Third-seeded Orange (10-2) never recovered. The Pioneers managed just 29 yards of total offense in the first half and gave up 253 to Pickerington North, which did most of its damage on the ground.
After Drew Bookman hit a couple field goals, one from 22 yards out and another from 38 to make it a 13-0 game, Nick Mosley powered into the end zone from three yards out to make it 20-0 with 6:02 left in the second quarter.
Another Bookman field goal ballooned the lead to 23-0 and Demeatric Crenshaw made it 30-0 via a 30-yard touchdown pass to Lorenzo Styles with less than a minute left in the first half.
Mosley scored from 50 yards out and Sirron Smith made it 44-0 with a 48-yard TD run late in the third to cap the scoring.
Olentangy 31, Anthony Wayne 21
After struggling to run the ball with any sort of consistency throughout the regular season, the Braves have leaned on the ground game in the playoffs … and Friday was no exception.
Olentangy rushed for four touchdowns and more than 200 yards on the way to a Division II regional semifinal win over Anthony Wayne at Columbian High School, all while limiting the high-powered Generals to just 238 yards of total offense.
Ethan Hand landed the first blow, powering into the end zone from a yard out to give the Braves a 7-0 lead with 3:27 left in the opening quarter.
The Generals answered in a hurry, getting a 27-yard score from Ezra Scott a minute later. Another Scott touchdown made it 14-7 with :34 seconds left in the first half, but Olentangy took control from there.
Hayden Olcott connected on a 42-yard field goal as time expired in the first half and the momentum stayed on the Olentangy sideline for much of the third quarter as touchdown runs by QB Trent Maddox (12 yards) and Landon Johnson (21 yards) gave the Braves a 24-14 edge with 2:30 left in the third.
Scott’s third touchdown of the night pulled the Generals within three, 24-21 with 32 seconds left in the quarter, but a nine-yard touchdown run from Johnson smoothed out the scoring summary with 4:49 to play in the game.
Maddox completed 14 of his 21 passes for 155 yards while Johnson anchored the ground game with 19 carries for 95 yards and the two scores. Jace Middleton was the team’s leading receiver, finishing with five grabs for 76 yards.
Next up, sixth-seeded Olentangy (7-5) will take on top-seeded and undefeated Toledo Central Catholic (12-0) in Friday’s regional final at a site to be determined.
Groveport-Madison 13, Olentangy Liberty 7
Olentangy Liberty quarterback Corbin Parrish hit A.J. Rausch for a 71-yard score, evening things at seven with 1:44 left in the third quarter, but the Cruiser defense allowed next to nothing other than the one big play en route to a Division I regional semifinal win over the Patriots Friday night at Gahanna Lincoln High School.
Fourth-seeded Groveport (10-2), which lost to top-seeded Liberty (10-2) 21-14 in Week 5, gave up just 33 rushing yards — 194 overall — in Friday’s win. The Cruisers controlled things most of the way, running 20 more plays and holding onto the ball for 20 more minutes than the Patriots, who had possession for just 13:38.
Jalil Underdown broke the scoring seal with a four-yard touchdown with 1:55 left in the first quarter. Austin Snyder’s extra point made it 7-0 and that’s the way things stayed until late in the third, when Parrish hooked up with Rausch to tie it.
Emmanuel Anthony gave Groveport the lead for good with a two-yard TD run with 6:25 to play in the game. The Cruisers missed the extra point, but the defense made sure the six-point lead stood.
Liberty came up with a clutch goal-line stop to stay in it, holding Jashaun McGraw to no gain on a fourth-and-one play from the Patriot one-yard line, but ran out of time after regaining possession with 99 yards to travel and just 1:24 left to get there. The Patriots did manage to move the ball into Cruiser territory, but ran out of time at the 45.
Parrish completed seven of his 11 passes for 103 yards and the touchdown. Rausch had two grabs for 83 yards and the team’s lone score, Cam Barcus had 10 receptions for 72 yards and Brennan Rowe finished with 11 carries for 30 yards in the setback.
The Cruisers, meanwhile, had three players with 70 or more yards rushing in McGraw, Anthony and Underdown. McGraw led the way with 109 on 25 attempts.
With the win, Groveport will take on Pickerington Central in Friday’s regional final at a site to be determined.