Not unexpectedly, a team celebrated on the Dublin Coffman High School football field Oct. 26, posing for pictures with families, friends and each other after its victory.
Perhaps surprisingly, it wasn’t the Shamrocks.
Upper Arlington running back Gus Ackley ran for 205 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries, including an 80-yard score on the first play of the second half, and the previously undefeated Shamrocks committed six turnovers to help the Golden Bears pull off a 23-14 upset in an OCC-Central Division game and the regular-season finale for both teams.
Coffman fumbled the opening kickoff, Ackley ran for a 29-yard touchdown two plays later and the stage was set amid a driving rain for the Bears to win their third consecutive game and hand the Shamrocks their first loss.
UA finished 6-4 overall and 5-2 in the OCC-Central, and Coffman, which already had clinched a Division I, Region 3 playoff berth, fell to 9-1 and 6-1.
As a result of the loss and Hilliard Davidson's 14-7 win over Marysville, Coffman must settle for sharing the OCC-Central championship with Davidson.
Quarterback Kyle Kaparos threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Alex Husted and Robbie Baskent kicked a 22-yard field goal to put UA ahead 17-0 midway through the second quarter.
“We kept the momentum going. That’s the best thing we could have done,” Ackley said. “Everybody thought we’d come in here at 5-4 and just give up against a 9-0 team, but we didn’t think that. We went all out no matter what and this team played one of the best games we’ve played all season.”
Running back Daniel Chang ran for touchdowns of 7 and 16 yards to lead Coffman, which outgained UA 378-259 in total yards. His second touchdown with 9 minutes, 40 seconds to play in the third quarter was the last score of the game, as the Shamrocks squandered chances to make it closer with three lost fumbles.
“There’s no doubt we had some good fortune tonight, but we took advantage,” UA coach Mike Golden said. “We forced some mistakes and we didn’t make any dumb ones.”
Shamrocks quarterback James Walsh was 14-for-30 passing for 170 yards with two interceptions. Nick Milo had one of the interceptions for the Bears and Husted had the other, which came on the game’s final play.
“We played aggressive,” said Milo, a senior two-way lineman. “Most teams just kind of sit back and let them play their game. We went at them. We made tackles and hustled to the ball. It was simple.”
Coffman now will turn its attention to its playoff opener on Nov. 3, but that was the last thing on Shamrocks coach Mark Crabtree’s mind moments after the regular-season finale.
“You can’t just turn the ball over (six) times and expect to win a game,” he said. “We’re not even talking about (the playoffs) right now. We have to deal with disappointment right now. We won’t pretend it didn’t happen.”
UA -- Ackley 29 run (Baskent kick)
UA -- Husted 32 pass from Kaparos (Baskent kick)
UA -- Baskent 22 FG
DC -- Chang 7 run (Coffman kick)
UA -- Ackley 80 run (kick failed)
DC -- Chang 16 run (Coffman kick)