By Ben Stroup
Joe Metcalf was the story of the first half, drilling field goals from 50 and 52 yards out, but Olentangy outscored host Orange 21-0 in the second half to roll to a 43-20 OCC-Capital Division win Friday in Lewis Center.
Up just 22-20 at the break, Deeb Haber found Jake O’Donnell twice for touchdowns in the third quarter to balloon a close game into a more comfortable 36-20 margin heading into the fourth.
The Braves’ Cam Kennedy capped the scoring with a one-yard TD run early in the fourth.
It wasn’t so much the six points that made Metcalf’s field goals such a big deal, or the distance, it was the jolt they injected into the sideline that mattered most. They punctuated what was easily Orange’s (0-5, 0-2 OCC) best half of the season.
His first kick, the 50-yarder, gave Orange its first lead of the game — 10-9 halfway through the second quarter.
The Braves (4-1, 2-0 OCC) answered with a big-time drive, capping the ensuing series with a 10-yard TD connection between QB Deeb Haber and receiver Obi Anunike. The strike made it a 15-10 game with 4:35 left in the half, but Metcalf struck again, splitting the uprights from 52 yards out to pull the Pioneers back within two, 15-13, with three minutes to play until the break.
Haber and the Braves had another answer, this time in the from of a 78-yard TD pass to Seth O’Neal a minute and a half later, but Orange landed the final punch of the period, scoring just before the break when J.D. Dayhuff connected with Hunter Shepherd from 22 yards out.
Olentangy’s defense wasn’t nearly as sharp in the first half as it was in the second, but it did account for the first points of the game when Alex Draime sacked Dayhuff in the end zone for a safety at the 3:58 mark of the first quarter.
The Braves made it 9-0 on their next possession as Sam Durst took a handoff from Haber, set his feet and fired a 24-yard strike to O’Donnell with 1:05 left in the first.
Tyler Lichter then caught a two-yard TD pass when Orange elected to go for it on fourth-and-goal early in the second before Metcalf stole the show.
Haber, Kennedy and O’Donnell put up big numbers in the win. Haber completed 18 of his 27 passes for 212 yards and four TDs, Kennedy rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown and O’Donnell had five grabs for 67 yards and the three scores.
Anunike was also solid, finishing with nine receptions for 79 yards, while O’Neal had four catches for a game-best 89 yards.
Dayhuff completed 23 of his 36 passes for 215 yards and two TDs for Orange, hitting seven different receivers, but the Braves limited the Pioneers to just 29 yards on the ground.
Buckeye Valley 35, Fairbanks 0
The Barons picked up their most complete win of the season Friday, dominating host Fairbanks to the tune of a 35-0 MOAC win.
Ben Spaulding opened the scoring with a three-yard TD run less than three minutes into the action before Blayde McCully added a two-yard touchdown run three minutes later to make it a 14-0 game.
Nathan Bisang hauled in a 42-yard touchdown pass to balloon the BV (3-2, 2-0 MOAC) edge to 20-0 with 3:31 left in the first and the Barons never looked back.
The defense, which allowed next to nothing en route to pitching the shutout, lit up the scoreboard when Jordan Anthony returned an interception 90 yards to the house early in the second, and Teren Wycoff smoothed out the scoring summary with a one-yard TD run with 1:35 left in the third quarter.
Spaulding efficiently ran the offense, completing eight of his 14 passes for 116 yards and a TD while running for 12 yards and another score.
Bisang was his top target, finishing with three grabs for 64 yards and the TD. Gabe Miller hauled in three receptions of his own, his covering 34 yards, while rushing for a team-best 57 more.
Liberty 42, Upper Arlington 17
The Patriots used a big middle two quarters to pull away, outscoring the Golden Bears 21-0 in the second and third to roll to a key 42-17 OCC-Central Division win Friday in Upper Arlington.
After UA scored the game’s first points on an 18-yard pass and catch from Vince Murdocco to Tyrece Speaight, Liberty (4-1, 1-1 OCC) pulled even when QB Alex Lando and Johnny Wiseman connected from 73 yards out with 6:44 left in the first quarter.
The Bears regained the lead with a 35-yard field goal off the foot of E.J. Caldwell, but Liberty scored the next 35 points to put the game away.
Lando scored on a three-yard run to make it 14-10 late in the first, Grant Uehlein plowed in from a yard out early in the second and Lando hit Brendon White for a 23-yard TD strike to make it a 28-10 game at the break.
Trent Davies returned the opening kickoff of the second half 91 yards for a TD and then scored on a 13-yard run to make it a 42-10 ballgame early in the fourth.
Lando completed 14 of his 21 passes for 215 yards and a pair of scores while Davies sparked the ground game with 105 yards and a TD on 22 carries. Wiseman also had a big game, making seven grabs for 132 yards and the touchdown.
White had two interceptions for the Patriots.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.