By Ben Stroup
Hayes turned a pair of early Orange turnovers into touchdowns and another two fourth-quarter scores into something even more satisfying: a thrilling 26-21 OCC-Capital Division win Friday in Delaware.
The game was back-and-fourth throughout, with the Pacers (3-4, 1-3 OCC) getting the Homecoming crowd pumped up with the game’s first touchdown.
After the defense forced a fumble on the Pioneers’ (1-6, 1-3 OCC) second play from scrimmage, the offense, thanks to a heavy dose of Ethan Tucky, turned the miscue into points. Several Tucky runs moved the ball inside the five before the senior plowed in from a yard out to make it a 7-0 game early on.
Orange fired back, evening things up with a four-yard TD run by Blake Skuratowicz, but the Hayes offense, this time set up by an interception and nice return by Caleb Naegele, quickly made it 14-7 when quarterback Cullen Moore scored on a three-yard keeper on the very next play.
Skuratowicz made it 14-14 by the break, scoring on another four-yard run for the only points of the second quarter, but the Pacer offense got back on track in the fourth after being shutout for two straight quarters.
Moore put Hayes up with a one-yard run early in the fourth and, after Skuratowicz powered in from a yard out to give his team a 21-20 edge, Pacer running back Sean Gliebe sealed the deal with an 11-yard run with 1:39 to play.
Orange finished with a 345-302 edge in total yardage, and slim 18-17 advantage in first downs, but the early turnovers proved to be killers.
Hayes didn’t move the ball much through the air, but it didn’t need to. Tucky, who carried the ball 19 times, finished with 118 yards rushing. Gliebe chewed up 67 more yards on the ground while Moore closed with 25 to go with his two touchdowns.
J.D. Dayhuff was steady for the Pioneers, completing nine of his 18 passes for 126 yards. Emerson Milner and Matthew Collins were his two top targets, combining for 100 yards receiving.
Skuratowicz did all the scoring, but Tyler Lichter did the heavy lifting to get his team into the red zone. He finished with 147 yards on 20 carries in the loss.
Tucky led the Pacer defense with five tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss.
Tyler Houston had a sack for the Pioneers while Jimmy Sensibaugh led the D with a game-best seven tackles.
Both teams continue league play Friday. Orange hosts Franklin Heights while Hayes travels to Mount Vernon.
Buckeye Valley 27, Pleasant 14
It took the Barons a quarter and a half to get going, but once they did, well, they were next to unstoppable.
Down 14-0 midway through the second, Ian Hogg started what turned out to be a 27-0 surge with a 75-yard kick return for a touchdown.
After the teams traded possessions, QB Tim Schilling, making his first start of the season, made it 14-all 51 seconds before halftime with a four-yard touchdown run.
BV (4-3, 3-1 MOAC), with all the momentum and a big Homecoming crowd on its side, dominated the second half.
Teren Wycoff put the Barons up 19-14 with a 79-yard TD run early in the fourth, Schilling converted the ensuing two-point play to make it 21-14 and Sam Scharff added a couple late field goals, one from 41 yards out and another from 43, to smooth out the scoring summary.
Schilling completed six of his 10 passes for 84 yards. Wycoff sparked the ground game with 93 yards on nine carries while receiver Gabe Miller finished with one grab covering 73 yards.
Next up, Buckeye Valley will hit the road for an important league game against River Valley Friday night.
Liberty 48, Westland 19
The Patriots scored 21 first-quarter points to set the tone, parlaying the fast start into a lopsided OCC-Central Division win over visiting Westland Friday in Powell.
Liberty (6-1, 3-1 OCC) quarterback Alex Lando opened the scoring with a 13-yard TD run less than a minute into the action, Ohio State commit Brendon White made it 14-0 with a 68-yard punt return less than two minutes later and Trent Davies ballooned the edge to 21-0 with a three-yard touchdown run with 3:30 left in the first quarter.
Another Lando TD run, this time from 19 yards out, made it 28-7 midway through the second and Will Fowler scored on a 52-yard run to boost the Patriots’ edge to 35-13 just before halftime.
White got the Homecoming crowd on its feet right out of halftime, returning the second-half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, and backup quarterback Corbin Rapier made it 48-13 with a 29-yard TD pass to Drew Rosi with 10:41 left in the third.
Liberty moved the ball at will, racking up 441 yards of total offense (192 passing and 249 rushing) in the win.
Lando completed nine of his 15 passes for 150 yards while adding 62 more yards on the ground, Davies finished with a team-best 77 rushing yards on 17 attempts and Rosi closed as the team’s top receiver with five grabs for 76 yards.
With the win, Liberty will head to Hilliard Davidson Friday with a share of first place on the line.
Also: Mount Vernon 46, Big Walnut 21.