A fourth-quarter goal-line stand helped the host Olentangy Liberty High School football team rally from 14 points down to defeat OCC-Cardinal Division rival Dublin Jerome for the first time in four tries.
Liberty quarterback Joey Longhino threw for three touchdowns — including the game-winner with just over 5 minutes left — in a 20-16 victory on Friday, Sept. 23.
“We’ve struggled with Jerome,” said Liberty coach Steve Hale, whose team improved to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the league. “To get a win like this was just huge for our kids, huge for our program and our season. Our kids have fought through a lot. This game really went like our season.”
Two fourth-quarter defensive stands helped protect the win.
Grant Cartwright and Robert Suarez stuffed Jerome’s Matt Mehrer on fourth-and-goal at the 1 two plays into the fourth quarter. Although a safety on the subsequent possession gave the Celtics a 16-14 lead when the Patriots were called for holding in the end zone, the Patriots’ ability to keep the Celtics from scoring a touchdown turned out to be decisive.
“It certainly made a huge difference in the score,” said Jerome coach Mark Hundley, whose team dropped to 1-4 overall and 1-1 in the league. “We didn’t get it in, and in those moments we’ve got to get it in.”
After Bryson Wray’s 3-yard touchdown reception with 5 minutes, 2 seconds left put the Patriots ahead for the first time, Tyler Welch intercepted Jerome quarterback Joe Bano at midfield to preserve the win with 1:06 left.
Wray also had a 1-yard scoring catch.
“I really give our defensive line all the credit,” Liberty linebacker Grant Cartwright said. “They got after it the entire game and without them we can’t do anything.”
Jerome took a 14-0 lead with 3:51 left in the second quarter when Donovan Wilson scored on a 3-yard run. He broke free for an 80-yard touchdown run on the Celtics' first possession.
Wilson finished with 120 yards on 16 carries before leaving in the second quarter with a bruised thigh.
Longhino, who completed 12 of 20 passes for 171 yards and an interception, cut the lead to 14-7 with 2:24 left in the first half when he hit A.J. Motika for a 43-yard score.
DUBLIN JEROME 7 7 0 2 – 16
OLENTANGY LIBERTY 0 7 7 6 – 20
DJ--Wilson 80 run (Keller kick)
DJ--Wilson 3 run (Keller kick)
OL--Motika 43 pass from Longhino (Vucelich kick)
OL--Wray 1 pass from Longhino (Vucelich kick)
DJ--Safety, Liberty penalized for holding in end zone
DJ--Wray 3 pass from Longhino (run failed)