Quarterback Joey Longhino scored on an 8-yard run with 1 minute left to lead the visiting Olentangy Liberty High School football team to a 24-19 win over Westerville Central in an OCC-Cardinal Division game on Friday, Oct. 21.
Liberty improved to 5-4 overall and 4-2 in the OCC-Cardinal, while Central dropped to 7-2 and 4-2 and had its four-game winning streak end.
The Patriots and Warhawks are tied for second with Dublin Jerome in the OCC-Cardinal, one game behind Westerville South. Liberty closes the season Oct. 28 at home against South. That same night, Central plays at Jerome.
“(The game) had big plays, turnovers, momentum shifts. It’s a shame someone had to lose that game,” Liberty coach Steve Hale said. “I feel bad for the kids at Westerville Central and their coaches. Their coaches have done an amazing job. … But I’m so incredibly proud of our kids for the way they fought through everything and hung in there at the end.
“We play for the league title now against South.”
The Warhawks took a 19-18 lead with 2:03 left on a 14-yard run by running back Josh Gardy, but the Patriots responded with a six-play, 72-yard drive that was capped by Longhino’s only touchdown of the game.
On the first play of the winning drive, Longhino hit A.J. Motika on a screen pass that went for 50 yards. Three plays later, Longhino found Motika in the end zone, but the score was nullified by an offensive pass interference call on Motika, who pushed off defensive back Davon Reed a moment before catching the pass.
Facing third-and-28 on the Central 40, Longhino connected with Phil Osolinski on a 24-yard pass. A defensive pass interference call on the Warhawks moved the ball halfway to the goal line, giving the Patriots a first down at the 8, setting up Longhino’s touchdown on second down.
Central started the ensuing drive on its 20 and, on first down, quarterback Cody Kondas was intercepted by defensive back Matt Muntean at the Warhawks’ 39 with 54 seconds left. Longhino then took a knee twice as the Patriots ran out the clock.
The turnover was the fifth of the game for the Warhawks.
“Obviously, that’s huge,” Hale said. “Offensively, I thought we played OK. We should’ve capitalized a little bit more in situations, but credit goes to Westerville Central.”
Liberty took a 16-13 lead with 9:50 left in the fourth quarter on a 21-yard field goal by Sam Vucelich. The Patriots missed an opportunity to extend their lead on their next possession, as Longhino was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the 3 with 5:48 left.
However, four plays later on fourth-and-12 from the 1, Kondas knelt in the end zone for a safety, making it 18-13 with 4:44 left.
Liberty punted on the ensuing possession, but the punt went only 7 yards, giving Central the ball at the Patriots’ 35. Five plays later, Gardy scored to put the Warhawks ahead 19-18.
“We turned the ball over too many times, and we didn’t tackle,” Central coach John Magistro said. “We gave their quarterback too much time to throw the ball and they had guys wide open. … You have to give Liberty a lot of credit. They had a good scheme -- they always have a good passing game -- and they took advantage of it tonight.”
Longhino completed 16 of 27 passes for 233 yards with two interceptions and running back Myles Robinson rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries to lead the Patriots.
Kondas completed 14 of 28 passes for 189 yards with three interceptions. Gardy rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
OLENTANGY LIBERTY 7 0 6 11 -- 24
WESTERVILLE CENTRAL 7 0 6 6 -- 19
WC--Kondas 1 run (Robertson kick)
OL--Robinson 10 run (Vucelich kick)
OL--Robinson 3 run (kick blocked)
WC--Kondas 5 run (kick failed)
OL--Vucelich 21 FG
OL--Safety, Kondas kneel in end zone
WC--Gardy 14 run (pass failed)
OL--Longhino 8 run (pass failed)