The New Albany High School football team is averaging 39 points per game and almost hit that number Oct. 11 as it defeated host Olentangy 38-21 in a key OCC-Capital Division game.
But the Eagles chalked this victory up to their defense, which twice intercepted Braves sophomore quarterback Deeb Haber, recovered two fumbles and returned one of those for a touchdown in keeping previously undefeated Olentangy off-kilter the entire night.
“I can’t speak highly enough of how our kids played. We blitzed just enough and mixed up our coverages just enough,” New Albany coach Pat Samanich said. “We were trying to feel things out in the first half but we established ourselves and made nice plays on both sides of the ball.”
New Albany improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Capital in a game that had ramifications on both the OCC-Capital championship and the Division II, Region 5 computer rankings. The Eagles entered the game first in Region 5 and the Braves (6-1, 3-1) were eighth.
Both teams spent much of the first half feeling each other out.
New Albany struck first midway through the second quarter on senior running back Trey Quillin’s 6-yard touchdown run. Olentangy drove to New Albany’s 18-yard line midway through the second quarter before Eagles senior linebacker Hayden Hatten forced a fumble that senior defensive back O.B. Oppong returned 80 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0.
“This defense is all about not making mistakes and making the other team make mistakes,” said Oppong, who added touchdown runs of 60 and 55 yards in the fourth quarter. “Tonight, it was (a matter of) who would make one first.”
New Albany also stopped Olentangy on fourth down twice, with senior linebacker Nick Clemons making the decisive tackle both times.
“It was good. I was happy,” Clemons said. “We usually knew what was coming right off the get-go.”
Eagles senior receiver/defensive back Joe Siegenthaler had both interceptions of Haber, who was 30-for-49 passing for 286 yards. Siegenthaler also caught a 12-yard touchdown pass and had five receptions for 91 yards.
Sophomore kicker Joey Rolwing added a 49-yard field in the third quarter after barely missing from 50.
Junior running back Anthony Golden had touchdown runs of 11 and 1 yard for Olentangy, and Haber threw a 5-yard touchdown to senior receiver J.T. Grega in the final minute.
New Albany remains tied atop the OCC-Capital with Worthington Kilbourne, which is 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the league. Kilbourne plays Olentangy on Oct. 18 and visits New Albany on Oct. 25.
NA--Quillin 6 run (Rolwing kick)
NA--Oppong 80 fumble return (Rolwing kick)
NA--Rolwing 49 FG
O--Golden 11 run (Bell kick)
NA--Siegenthaler 12 pass from Cline (Rolwing kick)
NA--Oppong 60 run (Rolwing kick)
O--Golden 1 run (Bell kick)
NA--Oppong 55 run (Rolwing kick)
O--Grega 5 pass from Haber (Bell kick)