For three quarters on Sept. 14 against visiting Hilliard Davidson, it appeared the Olentangy Liberty High School football team was returning to the form that helped it reach a Division I state semifinal each of the past two seasons.
That’s when Davidson pulled off a fourth-quarter rally, stunning the Patriots 22-21.
The Wildcats remain undefeated at 4-0, while the Patriots slipped to 1-3.
“I’m so proud of our guys,” Davidson coach Brian White said. “I don’t know if we could have played much worse in the first half, especially with the penalties, and those continued in the second half. The defense was struggling to get off the field. The offense was struggling to stay on the field.
“I couldn’t be more proud. We didn’t practice well all week and tonight was an example of what happens when you don’t practice well, and somehow we were able to still pull it out.”
Trailing 21-10, Jordan Hicks scored on a 7-yard run in the fourth quarter to pull Davidson within 21-16 and Kalib O’Connor followed with a 3-yard scoring run with 2 minutes, 32 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats their first lead.
The game-winning drive was set up when Bobby Smith recovered Liberty quarterback Mitchell Okuley’s fumble at the Davidson 26-yard line. On the ensuing drive, Davidson quarterback Carson Felicetty connected with O’Connor for a 22-yard gain and a first down on fourth-and-22. O’Connor scored four plays later.
Felicetty was 8-for-9 passing for 115 yards, with Hicks rushing for 81 yards and two scores and Christian Sweet adding 67 yards rushing.
Led by Okuley, the Patriots held a 21-10 halftime lead and remained in control in the third quarter.
Okuley completed 15 of 21 passes for 181 yards and one touchdown and added two rushing touchdowns. He returned to action in a 23-14 win over Marysville on Sept. 7 after being out with an injury since the first quarter of the Patriots’ 17-0 loss to Pickerington North in the opener Aug. 24.
The Patriots scored on their first three possessions, with Okuley opening the scoring with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Aidan Kenley with 9:35 left in the first quarter.
After Davidson closed within 7-3 on Sean Carrier’s 26-yard field goal, the Patriots answered with the first of Okuley’s two touchdown runs for a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter.
The Wildcats again pulled closer on Hicks’ 1-yard touchdown run before Okuley closed the first half with a 10-yard scoring run.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final HILLIARD DAVIDSON 3 7 0 12 22 OLENTANGY LIBERTY
7 14 0 0 21
OL—Kenley 14 pass from Okuley (Bird kick)
HD—Carrier 26 FG
OL—Okuley 1 run (Bird kick)
HD—Hicks 1 run (Carrier kick)
OL—Okuley 10 run (Bird kick)
HD—Hicks 7 run (pass failed)
HD—O’Connor 3 run (run failed)