By Ben Stroup
The Liberty defense forced four Olentangy turnovers … and turned around the rivalry in the process.
Brendon White finished with a pair of interceptions, returning one for a 43-yard touchdown and capping the game with the other, as the Patriots outlasted the host Braves 24-21 Friday in Lewis Center. The win snapped a five-game losing streak to their sister school.
Olentangy (1-1) opened the scoring, getting on the board when Jimmy Elmurr plowed into the end zone from a yard out with 10:16 left in the first, but Liberty (2-0) scored the next 17 points to take a 17-14 lead into the half.
Alex Lando kicked a 20-yard field goal to make it 7-3, Trent Davies scored from a yard out early in the second and White intercepted Deeb Haber and returned it to the house to make it 17-7 with 4:45 left in the first half.
The Braves got back on the board when Cam Kennedy scored from 28 yards out late in the second, but a one-yard Lando TD run with 10:26 left in the third gave the Patriots all the points they would need … the defense took care of the rest.
Olentangy’s Jake O’Donnell scored on a five-yard run with 9:12 left in the third, but neither team scored the rest of the way.
The Braves outgained the Patriots 404-340, but the turnovers were the killer. The first, a fumble, came as Olentangy was knocking on the door, up 7-3 looking for another score early in the second. A strip sack gave Liberty the ball deep in its own end, though, and Lando found a streaking Johnny Wiseman for an 84-yard hook up a play later. Wiseman, who finished with 12 grabs for 184 yards, was tackled at the one, setting up Davies’ TD run.
Lando completed 20 of his 28 passes for 257 yards while rushing for team-best 35 more. Drew Rosi backed Wiseman with four receptions for 51 yards.
Haber completed just 19 of his 43 passes for 218 yards and the three picks. Kennedy had a big night on the ground, with his 19 rushes covering a total of 145 yards, and O’Donnell led the Olentangy receiving corps with four receptions and 67 yards.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.