Unofficially, the Delaware Hayes High School football team knew it had qualified for the postseason before playing Friday at Olentangy Orange.

The Pacers made it official by beating the first-year Pioneers 21-7 to improve to 7-3, as they await Sunday's telephone call from the OHSAA telling them who and where they will play in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs next Saturday.

It will mark the program's first appearance in the playoffs.

"We knew when Hilliard Davidson beat Hilliard Darby (21-14 at Crew Stadium last Thursday) that we were in the playoffs," first-year coach Mike LoParo said. "(The coaching staff) tried not to let the kids know that.
We found out after the game they already knew it, but they didn't let us know they knew it. So we all played the game really well."

Against Orange, the Pacers didn't play the game really well, just the second half, during which they outscored the Pioneers 14-0, ran 29 plays to Orange's 15 and limited the Pioneers to two first downs.

"I felt like we were a little flat in the first half, so we got after them at halftime," said LoParo, whose team finished second at 5-1 in the OCC-Capital Division behind Big Walnut at 6-0. Orange finished 3-7 and 1-5.

With the rain and gusts of wind, Delaware's passing attack never got on track. So the Pacers' philosophy at halftime was to go right at the Orange defense. They did not attempt a pass in the second half.

Delaware started its first possession of the second half at its 3-yard line and drove 13 plays, with quarterback Taylor Wood capping the drive which consumed nearly six minutes with a 1-yard run. Jamey Hackett's
extra point made it 14-7.

"We just said we need to get this done and went right at them in the second half," senior center Ben Steele said. "We took charge and got it done. Now we have momentum heading into the playoffs."

Delaware lost its second fumble of the game in its next possession, as Orange got the ball back at its own 46.

Pioneers quarterback Corey Joe, who ran for 60 yards in the first half but finished with 85, was sacked by Evan Welsh and Ponchi Rivera for a 12-yard loss on second down after a high snap. After an incomplete
pass, Orange punted with 6:35 left in the game. The Pioneers never got the ball back.

"(Joe) is a tremendous athlete and we knew he could hurt us on the edge, so we made some adjustments and made sure we didn't lose contain," LoParo said. "Our defensive coordinator Michael Freado does a
real nice job."

"We didn't execute and that hurt us," Orange coach Brian Cross said. "We're not good enough to overcome second-and-15 or third-and-12 plays. Those things kill you. Our defense played well, but was on the field
way too long in the second half. But Delaware is a good team and their quarterback is a great athlete who does a fantastic job managing the game plan."

Delaware drove 80 yards on 12 plays to make it 21-7 as Wood scored on a 6-yard keeper with 1:11 left. Orange fumbled the kickoff and Delaware recovered and lined up in victory formation to run out the clock.

The game was tied at 7 at intermission. Orange scored first after Chaz Weisenstein recovered a fumble at the Delaware 6-yard line. Daniel Watson scored on a 1-yard run two plays later and Luke Rice kicked the
extra point.

Delaware tied the game when Matt Cornell's 4-yard run capped a five-play, 38-yard drive midway through the second quarter.

Wood ran for 116 yards on 20 carries and Cornell added 79 on 14 runs.

"I couldn't be more proud of our kids," LoParo said. "The offensive line did a great job in the second half. Taylor Wood is a tremendous passing quarterback who has shown he can run it and he loves running it. He's
explosive. We did what we had to do under these conditions."

DELAWARE 0 7 7 7 - 21
ORANGE 7 0 0 0 - 7
O-Watson 1 run (Rice kick)
D-Cornell 4 run (Hackett kick)
D-Wood 1 run (Hackett kick)
D-Wood 6 run (Hackett kick)