Led by junior running back Daryian Davies, the Olentangy Liberty High School football team defeated visiting Upper Arlington 37-21 in an OCC-Central Division game that concluded Sept. 22.
The Patriots improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Central and the Golden Bears dropped to 2-3 and 1-1. The game had been suspended because of lightning Sept. 21 with Liberty leading 24-21 at halftime.
The Patriots outscored UA 13-0 in the second half, which began 13 hours after the conclusion of the first half. Davies rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries in the second half and finished with 153 yards and three scores on 29 carries.
"You never know how a team is going to respond after a crazy situation like that," Liberty coach Steve Hale said, referring to the game being suspended and completed the next day. "You just do the best you can. We asked (the players) to go straight home and go straight to bed last night and be focused when they came in today. I thought we came in with a good demeanor this morning. I compliment our kids for the way they played today."
Liberty was forced to punt on its opening drive of the second half, but defensive back Matt Muntean intercepted UA quarterback Kyle Kaparos on the Bears' first possession of the half and returned the ball 37 yards to the 2-yard line.
Two plays later, Davies scored on a 3-yard run to give the Patriots a 31-21 lead. He later capped a 67-yard, seven-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown run with 8 minutes, 44 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to extend the Patriots' lead to 37-21.
Liberty then stopped UA with a goal-line stand with 4:26 left to seal the victory. The Bears had second-and-goal from the 1 but were stopped for no gain on three consecutive running plays, one by Kaparos and two by fullback Chase Greenlee.
"I always think the home team has a huge advantage in these situations," UA coach Mike Golden said. "We had to get on a bus this morning and come back over here and it's a good half-hour trip for us, but that's not an excuse. I think the play turned on (Muntean's) interception. I think that was the play of the game.
"We were in a very good position (at halftime). We were doing some things well, but we just couldn't sustain it."
Liberty opened the scoring with a 19-yard field goal by Sam Vucelich with 8:12 left in the first quarter and extended its lead to 10-0 on a 52-yard punt return by Muntean with 6:40 left in the quarter.
UA made it 10-7 with 3:41 left in the quarter, capping an 80-yard, seven-play drive with a 15-yard run by Gus Ackley.
On the ensuing possession by Liberty, UA’s Lewis Hughes blocked a 24-yard field-goal attempt by Vucelich and Chris Frey scooped up the ball and ran 20 yards before being tackled at the Bears’ 45.
Two plays later, UA took a 14-10 lead with 11:33 left in the second quarter on a 55-yard run by Ackley, only to see Liberty’s Nick Durtschi return the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to put the Patriots ahead 17-14.
UA took a 21-17 lead on its next possession, capping an 80-yard, 12-play drive with a 34-yard run by Ackley with 7:11 left in the quarter. However, Liberty answered with a 74-yard, eight-play drive that culminated with a 1-yard run by Davies, giving the Patriots a 24-21 lead with 3:49 left in the half.
Liberty missed an opportunity to increase its lead before halftime, as Vucelich missed a 19-yard field goal with 15 seconds left.
Ackley led UA's offense with 192 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 21 carries. Kaparos completed 11 of 19 passes for 111 yards with an interception.
Liberty quarterback Joey Longhino was 13-for-19 passing for 121 yards and rushed for 145 yards on 18 carries.
OL -- Vucelich 19 FG
OL -- Muntean 52 punt return (Vucelich kick)
UA -- Ackley 15 run (Baskent kick)
UA -- Ackley 55 run (Baskent kick)
OL -- Durtschi 92 kickoff return (Vucelich kick)
UA -- Ackley 34 run (Baskent kick)
OL -- Davies 1 run (Vucelich kick)
OL -- Davies 3 run (Vucelich kick)
OL -- Davies 6 run (kick failed)