By the end of the first half, Dublin Scioto High School football coach Karl Johnson had seen enough mistakes.

By the end of the first half, Dublin Scioto High School football coach Karl Johnson had seen enough mistakes.

Visiting Westerville South had blocked a punt that led to a field goal and returned a fumble 24 yards for a touchdown in taking a 17-0 halftime lead last Friday.

The penalties also were mounting in a game the Wildcats would eventually win 31-0.

A week earlier, Olentangy scored on a 44-yard interception return and converted two fumbles into touchdowns in a 42-13 victory.

Those blunders must end if the Irish intend to make another midseason run. Scioto won four of its last five games in each of the last two seasons to finish 5-5 but missed the playoffs.

The Irish are 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division. Still, another second-half run of at least 4-1 would put them in a position for their first Division II playoff berth since 2005.

"We're not good enough to make up points on our own," said Johnson, whose team plays Friday at winless Westerville North. "We've shown we can play with anybody, but we've had too many penalties and too many turnovers."

They've been offensive destroyers as the Irish are averaging 13.4 points per game. The shutout against South was the first since losing to Worthington Kilbourne 30-0 on Sept. 5, 2008.

The Irish have just as many giveaways (7 fumbles, 3 interceptions) as giveways (8 fumbles, 2 interceptions). But those giveaways and other mistakes have blessed opponents with touchdowns or short field more often than not.

The Irish also have been outscored 74-20 in the first half.

"We've got to get better on offense because our defense has been playing their hearts out," running back Jerry Miles said. "We can't have those kinds of mental mistakes. I just think there are times when we get lackadaisical."

What made last Friday's miscues even more glaring was an Irish defense which held South running back Jayshon Jackson to a season-low 128 yards on 16 carries. He entered the game averaging 260 yards.

"We do our best to shut the offense down, but we need our offense to capitalize on what we do," linebacker Gabe Shirkey said. "It's frustrating, but we've got five more games left and we need to finish strong."

Last year, Scioto's only loss in the second half of the season came to Olentangy Liberty 14-13 because of a failed extra-point attempt.

The Irish outscored opponents 140-82 during that five-game stretch which included victories over Westerville North (34-7), Westerville Central (17-16), Dublin Jerome (43-28) and Marysville (33-17).

"We're going to treat every game from here on out like it's a playoff game," Johnson said. "Certainly, mistakes like we've had can stick in your head. I compare it to a batter being in a slump. It takes somebody getting a big play and making those clutch plays."

Scioto's longest running play is 27 yards. Its longest pass is 34 yards.

Sophomore William Houston is the top rusher with 370 yards on 85 carries and two touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Evan Demars has completed 41 of 88 passes for 529 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Miles has caught 15 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown.

"We're pretty confident we can move the ball, but we've got to be able to finish drives," Miles said. "We know we can't continue to do what we've been doing if we want to win."