The Olentangy Liberty High School football team scored 17 points in the final 7 minutes, 11 seconds to pull away for a 38-14 win over visiting Delaware in the final non-league game for both teams Friday, Sept. 9.
It was the first win for the Patriots, who were 0-2 for the first time since the school opened in 2003.
Delaware, which fell to 1-2, scored touchdowns 37 seconds apart to pull within 21-14 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Patriots responded with a 12-play drive capped by a 33-yard field by Samuel Vucelich. Liberty then forced a Delaware punt and put the game out of reach when Phil Osolinski ran 6 yards for a touchdown and a 31-14 lead with 2:06 left.
A.J. Motika - who scored the first two touchdowns on passes of 6 and 4 yards from Joey Longhino - intercepted a Josh Bender pass and went 18 yards untouched for the final score.
"Delaware played a pretty good second half, but we came up with two big drives after it was 21-14 and then A.J. Motika made the interception," Liberty coach Steve Hale said. "We needed this win and I thought Joey Longhino and A.J. made some nice plays and gave us some good balance."
The biggest play of the game came late in the first half when Motika wrestled the ball away from Delaware's Ethan Nichol for a 29-yard reception on a fourth-and-9 from the Pacers' 33-yard line. The Patriots ran the play from the "Wildcat" with Josh Gresham taking the direct snap.
Motika caught a 4-yard pass from Longhino on the next play to make it 14-0.
"That definitely was a key play and you could tell it changed the momentum," Hale said. "Without that play, it would've been 14-14 early in the fourth quarter. We've showed that play before but hadn't thrown out of it. The Delaware kid wasn't fooled and was in position, but A.J. made a heck of a play."
"We had a lot of penalties in the first half that killed drives and that's on us coaches," said first-year Delaware coach Zebb Schroeder, who was an assistant at Liberty the previous eight seasons with Hale. "I was pleased about our better effort in the second half, but we've got to get back to work and fix some things."
Nichol got the Pacers on the scoreboard with a 70-yard fumble return late in the third quarter and he then recovered his team's pooch kickoff to give the ball to Delaware at Liberty's 26. Bender scored on a 2-yard run four plays later.
DELAWARE 0 0 6 8 -- 14
LIBERTY 77 7 17 --38
OL--Motika 6 pass from Longhino (Vucelich kick)
OL--Motika 4 pass from Longhino (Vucelich kick)
OL--Osolinski 6 pass from Longhino (Vucelich kick)
D--Nichol 70 fumble return (kick failed)
D--Bender 2 run (Bender run)
OL--Vucelich 33 FG
OL--Osolinski 6 run (Vucelich kick)
OL--Motika 18 interception return (Vucelich kick)