Tough to beat a team twice in a season, huh? Not if you’re the Braves.
Olentangy, which upset the then eighth-ranked Shamrocks 31-14 earlier this fall, rallied from a 10-0 halftime deficit to do it again, this time by a 28-24 score in the first round of the OHSAA Division I playoffs Friday at Dublin Coffman.
With 1:24 left in the game, and 80 yards between them and the end zone, the Braves got moving. A personal foul penalty after a 15-yard pitch and catch moved the ball to midfield and, a few plays later, quarterback Riley Bruening found Jace Middleton for a 33-yard touchdown strike with 20 seconds left.
Coffman got the ball back with 13 seconds to play, but a Middleton interception ended the game.
The Braves, who blanked the Shamrocks in the second half of their regular-season showdown, were the ones who found points hard to come by this time around … at least early on.
Coffman’s Cam Scott had a solid run and Garrett Bajac picked up a first down with a key reception to set up the game’s first points: a 26-yard field goal off the foot of the Shamrocks’ Jordan Drye.
Bruening and Ali Iverson moved the chains on a pair of early drives for the Braves, but both stalled.
The 3-0 game stayed that way until Coffman’s Marcus Ernst scored on a 34-yard quarterback keeper to make it 10-0 with 11:42 left in the second.
Olentangy, slowed by turnovers and penalties in the first half, was sharp early in the second as Adam Primm hauled in a 15-yard pass from Bruening for a touchdown to make it a 10-7 game with 8:24 left in the third quarter.
Coffman was quick to answer, regaining a 10-point edge when Scott powered into the end zone from two yards out with 3:48 left in the third, but the Braves had found their footing.
Bruening found Middleton for an 18-yard TD to make it a 17-14 game with 10 minutes to go and, after Coffman scored on a three-yard pass from Ernst to Luke Crabtree on a fourth down, Bruening and the Braves answered right back with an eight-yard scoring strike to Luke Riedel to make it a three-point spread, 24-21, and set up the frantic final 3:44 of the game.
Next up, Olentangy will take on top-seeded Toledo Whitmer at a site to be determined next Friday night at 7:30 p.m.