At 5-foot-8, 145 pounds, Gabe Owusu-Antwi is used to being outsized on the football field.
The New Albany High School football team’s junior cornerback was again with the game on the line Aug. 24, but he batted down the pass on a two-point conversion attempt in the end zone with 10 minutes, 13 seconds left to help the Eagles hold off visiting Reynoldsburg 15-13 in the season opener for both teams.
Guy Cowans-Wright had scored for the Raiders on a 15-yard touchdown run moments earlier.
“I just saw the tight end pull out and I did what was best for the team,” Owusu-Antwi said. “I saw him turn and ran my hardest and batted it down. Our coaches just said to watch for the tight end. Size doesn’t matter to me. I have been smaller my whole life.”
Reynoldsburg still had chances to win but lost two fumbles in the final eight minutes, including one on first-and-goal at New Albany’s 7-yard line.
The Raiders, who also committed 11 penalties compared to the Eagles’ two, marched to New Albany’s 25-yard line with 42 seconds left, but Gabe Philhower’s 42-yard field goal attempt fell short.
“It’s heartbreaking because in the second half the defense played lights-out and gave the offense the ball in great position,” Reynoldsburg coach Buddy White said. “We’d move the ball and then something would happen, whether it was a drive-killing penalty or a turnover.”
Michiah Burton rushed for 104 yards on 30 carries and scored New Albany’s only touchdown on a 2-yard run to cap the game’s first drive.
Zach Paragas added field goals of 22 and 27 yards, and ultimately the winning points were scored on a safety with 5:10 left in the first half when Philhower dropped a snap as he was punting in the end zone.
J’vonte Edwards rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries for Reynoldsburg.
“We figured this is how this game would go,” said New Albany coach Pat Samanich, whose team did not have a first down in the third quarter and only two in the second half. “We knew we weren’t going to roll over them.”
This was the final installment of a season-opening series dating to 2012. Each team won three times, and the Eagles outscored the Raiders 168-161.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final REYNOLDSBURG
0 7 0 6 13 NEW ALBANY
13 2 0 0 15
NA—Burton 2 run (Paragas kick)
NA—Paragas 22 FG
NA—Paragas 27 FG
R—Edwards 8 run (Philhower kick)
NA—Safety (fumble in end zone)
R—Cowans-Wright 15 run (pass failed)