Olentangy Berlin found itself in a deep hole on Friday night, falling behind Westerville South 42-10 in a Division II, Region 7 quarterfinal before play was postponed due to lightning midway through the third quarter.
Quarterback Jacob Moeller leads the Bears, completing 15 of his 23 passing attempts for 194 yards, and running back Gavin Angell has totaled 94 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
The game got off to a wild start right from the opening kick when Berlin kicker Spencer Conrad drilled the kickoff off of a Westerville South player. The live ball was recovered by Berlin’s Aiden Cain, setting the Bears offense up with great field position for its first possession of the game.
Three plays later, Berlin was knocking on the door from the Westerville South 1-yard line, poised to take an early lead. But after two runs by running back Trey Keith were stuffed short of the end zone, disaster would strike for the Bears.
Facing a third and one, Moeller’s pass was intercepted in the end zone by Westerville South cornerback Kaden Saunders, a Penn State commitment, who returned the interception 103 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead for the Wildcats.
Despite the early deficit, Berlin wasted no time in engineering a response. Set up at its own 20-yard line to begin the second drive, Angell took a handoff from Moeller on the first play of the drive and raced 80 yards to the end zone for the score. Justin Rader’s extra point knotted the score 7-all just over three minutes into the first quarter.
The wild play would continue on the ensuing kickoff as Conrad’s kick was pooched toward the Berlin sideline. With no fair catch coming from Westerville South, the ball fell to the turf and was recovered by Berlin’s Max Loeffler, again giving the ball back to the Bears offense with great field position at the Wildcats’ 27-yard line.
Berlin was unable to cash in on the field position, however. Moeller was sacked for a loss of 10 yards on first down, and Angell was stopped for a loss of four yards on second down. Following a 4-yard gain on third down, Moeller’s pass on fourth and 20 fell to the turf, turning the ball over to Westerville South.
It would be the Berlin defense’s turn to come up with a big play on the next drive. Connor Gavin stepped in front of a pass from Westerville South quarterback Peter Pedrozo for an interception, returning the ball to the Wildcats’ 35-yard line. Berlin would cash in on the turnover with a 32-yard field goal by Rader, giving the Bears their first lead of the night at 10-7 with 1:33 remaining in the first quarter.
That would be as good as it got for the Bears in the first half, however, as Westerville South needed just four plays to regain the lead. Brandon Armstrong scampered 36 yards to the end zone, eluding several Bears defenders along the way, and Matthew Bame’s extra point gave the Wildcats a 14-10 lead with 20 seconds remaining in the first.
Following a three and out by the Berlin offense, the floodgates opened up on the Bears. Westerville South running back Ethan Hanna took a handoff on the first play of the Wildcats’ drive and outran the Berlin defense 82 yards to the end zone, increasing the Wildcats’ lead to 21-10 just over a minute into the second quarter.
Badly in need of a drive, Berlin took over at its own 20-yard line and drove 62 yards to the Westerville South 17-yard line. The drive stalled, however, and the Bears were turned away with no points after Rader’s 34-yard field goal attempt sailed right of the upright.
Westerville South would deliver the knockout punches late in the second quarter on the arm of Pedrozo, who connected with Saunders and Jesse DeVore for scoring strikes of 26 and 50 yards, increasing the Wildcats’ lead to 35-10 heading into the locker room.
Berlin received the opening kickoff of the second half, but was unable to muster any offense, going three and out and punting the ball back to Westerville South. Twelve plays later, Hanna busted into the end zone from a yard out for his second score of the night to give the Wildcats a 42-10 lead before play was halted.
Play will resume this morning at 10 a.m. with the Berlin offense at the Westerville South 9-yard line and 4:50 remaining in the third quarter.
Olentangy and Olentangy Liberty also saw their playoff games pushed to tomorrow.
The Patriots never even started their Division I, Region 2 semifinal against host Dublin Coffman. That game is set to be played today at Noon.
The Braves, meanwhile, led visiting Worthington Kilbourne 7-0 midway through the second quarter of their Division II, Regional 7 quarterfinal. The game is slated to be resumed today at 10 a.m.
In regular-season action, Delaware Hayes trailed host Licking Heights 14-7 before storms postponed play with 1:27 left in the second quarter and Olentangy Orange led host Westerville North 13-10 in the third quarter. Hayes will finish today at 10 a.m. No word yet on when or if Orange and North will finish up.
Also: Buckeye Valley at River Valley, late; Big Walnut at Mount Vernon, late.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.