The route and throw looked nearly perfect, but Ramal Iverson of the Olentangy High School football team made certain the play wouldn't be the one that ended the Braves' season.
The senior defensive back stopped Dublin Scioto wide receiver Mason Matheny inside the Olentangy 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal from the 18 with 12 seconds left to protect a 21-17 victory over the visiting Irish in a Division I, Region 3 playoff opener Nov. 3.
Seeded third in the region, Olentangy improved to 10-1 and advanced to a regional semifinal against seventh-seeded Hilliard Davidson on Saturday, Nov. 10, at a site to be determined. Davidson improved to 9-2 with a 17-14 win over second-seeded Dublin Coffman in the first round Nov. 3.
Scioto, the sixth seed, finished 8-3.
Quarterback Evan DeMars found Matheny open over the middle just in front of the goal line.
"I saw someone catch the ball and knew what the situation was and I had to get him," Iverson said. "It was a great route and a great throw and he was wide open, but we made it."
The game-saving tackle halted a 15-play, 59-yard drive for Scioto. On third-and-goal from the 3, DeMars was called for intentional grounding. The 15-yard penalty made it fourth-and-goal from the 18.
"We were trying to get the ball to (wide receiver) Tim (Shadoan) in the flat, but he never made it out," Scioto coach Karl Johnson said. "Evan scrambled and threw it over the head of Mason, who was over there, but he chucked it (out of the end zone)."
Olentangy trailed 17-14 after the third quarter, but quarterback Andrew Horstman hit wide receiver Christian Brett on a 36-yard touchdown pass to give the Braves a four-point lead with 8:55 left. The score, which was set up by an interception by Tim Feasel with 16 seconds left in the third quarter, capped a seven-play, 74-yard drive.
Brett finished with three catches for 140 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. Horstman completed five of 13 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
Scioto trailed 14-3 in the first quarter before mounting a comeback.
DeMars, who completed 27 of 50 passes for 277 yards, completed touchdown passes of 48 and 5 yards to running back Will Houston.
"I think our defensive line put enough pressure on DeMars that he couldn't just sit back there and throw it," Olentangy coach Ed Terwilliger said. "Our philosophy was to be aggressive all night and let's go get them."
Houston's second touchdown ended a 17-play, 84-yard drive that wiped out more than six minutes and gave the Irish a 17-14 lead with 1:41 left in the third quarter.
Scioto's defense recovered two fumbles and forced Olentangy to punt on five consecutive possessions.
O--Brett 70 pass from Horstman (Baumbach kick)
DS--Crosa 21 FG
O--Horstman 33 run (Baumbach kick)
DS--Houston 48 pass from DeMars (Crosa kick)
DS--Houston 5 pass from DeMars (Crosa kick)
O--Brett 36 pass from Horstman (Baumbach kick)