A balanced rushing attack and a strong defense helped the Olentangy Orange High School football team snap a three-game losing streak as the host Pioneers defeated Delaware 24-10 on Oct. 5.
Larry Rode ran for 176 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries and Michael Forbes added 103 yards and two touchdowns on 22 attempts as the Pioneers won their homecoming game.
Orange improved to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the OCC-Capital Division, and the Pacers dipped to 1-6 and 0-4.
“It’s all about week to week, and some of those losses we had we just let linger too long,” Orange coach Brian Cross said. “It’s been a long year to this point. We’re used to success around here and I think it kind of hurt the team morale.
“So the kids finally bounced back and this is a good win for us. Now maybe we can get over the hump, start to believe in ourselves and finish strong.”
Leading only 10-7 at halftime, despite four first-half turnovers by the Pacers, Orange drove 80 yards in 13 plays on the first possession of the second half as Forbes’ 1-yard run made it 17-7.
Delaware had a fourth-down pass dropped in the end zone on the ensuing possession, but a 21-yard field goal by the Pacers’ Anthony Sanfillipo made it 17-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Delaware’s turnovers in the first half occurred after reaching the Orange 20 (fumble), on its own 44 (interception), on its own 34 (interception) and at the Orange 1 (fumble).
Midway through the fourth period, the Pacers forced a punt, but the Pioneers’ Jacob Stier -- who averaged 23.5 yards on his first two kicks -- let loose a 51-yarder. The Pacers also were penalized 15 yards on the return, forcing them to start from their own 9.
After three plays netted 1 yard, Alex Rafeld’s rugby-style punt into the wind and drizzle went 11 yards.
“We had four turnovers, dropped a touchdown pass, and had a touchdown called back because of a penalty … Those are things you just can’t do,” Delaware coach Zebb Schroeder said. “That’s just bad football. We have the potential, but we’re not disciplined and that’s on us coaches as well as the players. We have to grow up as a football team and football program.”
Orange capitalized on Delaware’s final gift, as Forbes scored on a 1-yard run six plays later.
“They gave us a lot of opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of too many of them, but that touchdown was the difference,” Cross said. “We let them stay in the game, within a score, because we had four fumbled center-quarterback exchanges. We didn’t lose any of them, but they put us behind on down-and-distance.”
In the first half, Rode scored on an 8-yard run and Mitchell Hopkins added a 23-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead. Delaware made it 10-7 before halftime when Rafeld threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jante’ Wright.
Rafeld was 11-for-25 passing for 164 yards, but Orange limited the Pacers to 100 yards rushing. Wright had six catches for 98 yards.
Triston Richardson had two interceptions for Orange.
OO—Rode 8 run (Hopkins kick)
OO—Hopkins 23 FG
D—Wright 20 pass from Rafeld (Sanfillipo kick)
OO—Forbes 1 run (Hopkins kick)
D—Sanfillipo 21 FG
OO—Forbes 1 run (Hopkins kick)