The standings at the top of the OCC-Cardinal Division got a little bit tighter on Friday, Sept. 30, as the Dublin Jerome High School football team upset host Westerville South 34-31 in double overtime.
Mitchell Keller hit a 31-yard field goal in the second overtime to put the Celtics on top and Jerome’s secondary came up with a stop on fourth-and-13 to seal the victory.
“We know once we get inside the 20 he has a good shot of making it. On a good night, when we’re inside the 25,” Jerome coach Mark Hundley said of Keller. “We had two shots inside the 20 and I said, ‘All right, let’s put some points on the board,’ and he came through. He’s got a solid leg. We just never put him in the situation before. For him to come out and do it, it was huge.”
Jerome improved to 2-4 overall and 2-1 in the league, and the Wildcats fell to 3-3 and 2-1.
Olentangy, Westerville Central and Marysville also are 2-1 in the league.
“Any time you beat a Westerville South team you’re going to get motivated, and we talked about how once we started league play, it’s a new season,” Hundley said. “We gave up one in the league, but now that we beat these guys, we got a shot if we win out to be the league champs and that’s going to be our motivation.”
Overtime possibly could have been prevented late in regulation.
Leading 24-21, the Celtics opted to gamble on fourth-and-inches on their own 19. Running back Donovan Wilson was stopped short of the first down, though, giving the Wildcats the ball with less than two minutes remaining.
However, the Celtics defense held their ground, stopping Daxton Cates for a short gain on first down and putting pressure on quarterback Marcus Ball on the next two plays. South kicker Andrew Bonnell connected from 27 yards to tie the game at 24 with 12 seconds left.
Hundley said he told his team to continue to play that type of defense in overtime.
“To be honest with you, I told them to keep doing what they’ve been doing the whole game, because the entire game, we were playing great defense,” he said. “I told them if we could get a stop, we would get the win.”
Both teams traded scores in the first overtime.
Cates, who finished with 217 yards rushing on 37 carries, scored on an 11-yard run to put South ahead 31-24. He finished with three touchdowns.
But Jerome answered when quarterback Joe Bano converted a fourth-and-10 when he found Matt Mehrer open near the goal line, giving the Celtics a first down at the 2. Wilson punched it in on the following play.
Following Keller’s field goal, South had one last opportunity.
But the Celtics’ defense stuffed Cates on first down for a loss of 4 yards and then a holding penalty pushed the Wildcats back even farther. Ball’s pass on second down fell incomplete and a third-down scramble left the Wildcats with fourth-and-13, and Ball’s pass to Brown in the end zone fell incomplete.
“If you make those mistakes, you’re not going to beat anybody,” South coach Rocky Pentello said.
In the first quarter, neither team let the wet conditions put much of a damper on their offenses.
South needed just one play from scrimmage to score as Cates went 67 yards for a touchdown.
The Wildcats forced a three-and-out on Jerome’s first possession, but Evan Lese fumbled the punt and the Celtics’ recovered at South’s 24.
Nine plays later, Wilson powered his way into the end zone from 1 yard out to tie the game at 7.
Jerome took the lead on its next possession, when Mehrer faked out the Wildcats’ defense on a counter and ran 40 yards untouched.
Cates tied the game with a 1-yard run to make it 14-all with a minute left in the first quarter.
Keller’s 35-yard field goal gave the Celtics a 17-14 halftime lead.
Jerome pushed the lead to 24-14 as Wilson went 64 yards for a touchdown to open the second half. He finished with 148 yards on 25 carries and three scores.
South got within 24-21 with 23 seconds left in the third quarter when Ball connected with Brown on a 2-yard pass.
DUBLIN JEROME 14 3 7 0 7 3 -- 34
WESTERVILLE SOUTH 14 0 7 3 7 0 -- 31
WS--Cates 67 run (Bonnell kick)
DJ--D. Wilson 45 run (Keller kick)
DJ--Mehrer 40 run (Keller kick)
WS--Cates 1 run (Bonnell kick)
DJ--Keller 23 FG
DJ--D. Wilson 64 run (Keller kick)
WS--Ball 2 pass to Brown (Bonnell kick)
WS--Bonnell 27 FG
WS--Cates 11 run (Bonnell kick)
DJ--D. Wilson 3 run (Keller kick)
DJ--Keller 31 FG