Ziyan Sears saw the ball sitting on the field and jumped into practice mode.
The senior defensive lineman for the Olentangy High School football team saw the ball squirt away from Dublin Coffman quarterback Marcus Ernst in the third quarter, scooped up the ball and raced 48 yards for a touchdown to give the host Braves the lead for good on their way to a 31-14 win Sept. 15.
Olentangy, which improved to 3-1, scored 21 points in the second half and held the Shamrocks scoreless over the final two quarters. Coffman fell to 3-1.
“I saw (Ernst) get hit and saw the ball roll about 5 yards from him,” Sears said. “We work on that in practice — ‘See ball. Get ball.’ I did that and ran like heck to the end zone.”
The Braves’ defense controlled the game, forcing three Coffman turnovers. Junior defensive back DeAnte Ables had two interceptions and the defensive front harassed Ernst throughout the game.
“(The Braves) played great and they have two twin brothers up front (Jacob and Zach Slade) who are going to Michigan State,” Coffman coach Mark Crabtree said. “They were tough to stop, they were physical and the coaches had them ready to play.”
The Braves opened the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Riley Bruening to Ian Drummond with 2 minutes, 27 seconds left in the first quarter.
Ernst was 7-for-14 passing for 128 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He put the Shamrocks on the board with an 11-yard run with 38 seconds left in the first quarter and gave Coffman a 14-7 lead when he connected with Cam Scott on a 26-yard touchdown pass with 6:15 left in the half.
Josh Petrone made a 22-yard field goal to cut the Braves’ deficit to 14-10 with 1:52 remaining before halftime.
“That was a play I normally wouldn’t make, but I really wanted to get points there,” Olentangy coach Mark Solis said of the field goal. “I think that helped us.
“We came out ready and our defense played great. We played so much better than we did last week (in a 31-7 loss to Reynoldsburg). Our kids came out ready to play.”
Bruening completed 16 of 20 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns, the second being an 11-yarder to Luke Riedel with 6:56 to play, and ran for a 2-yard score in the fourth quarter.
Scott led Coffman in rushing with 80 yards on 21 carries.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final DUBLIN COFFMAN 7 7 0 0 14 OLENTANGY
7 3 7 14 31
O—Drummond 10 pass from Bruening (Petrone kick)
DC—Ernst 11 run (J. Drye kick)
DC—Scott 26 pass from Ernst (J. Drye kick)
O—Petrone 22 FG
O—Sears 48 fumble return (Petrone kick)
O—Riedel 11 pass from Bruening (Petrone kick)
O—Bruening 2 run (Petrone kick)