Olentangy Liberty High School football coach Steve Hale was adamant that the Patriots did not have a set game plan on offense Oct. 12 in an OCC-Buckeye Division clash against visiting Olentangy.
“We just try and take what (the opponent) is giving,” Hale said. “What happened tonight was more based on what we were seeing as opposed to what we thought we would do. You practice everything and just roll it out there and see what’s working.”
The Braves were more giving than they wanted to be, and three interceptions were part of their undoing in a 21-14 loss that put the Patriots alone atop the league at 3-0.
Liberty quarterback Mitchell Okuley accounted for all three of his team’s touchdowns in the second quarter, scoring on a 5-yard run and throwing passes of 49 yards to Kyle Wilson and 11 yards to Chase Miley. The latter touchdown, which ultimately was the game-winning score, made it 21-0 and capped a gigantic momentum swing.
Olentangy drove 62 yards on 11 plays to the Patriots’ 20-yard line but Connor Haag was intercepted near the goal line by Tyson Chapman, who returned it 87 yards to the Braves’ 11.
Okuley connected with Miley on the next play.
“We had everything going for us early,” said Okuley, who completed eight of 10 passes for 140 yards and rushed for 31 yards on 17 carries. “The line gave me time for the receivers to get open and everything to develop.”
Olentangy hung around, ending the shutout with 11 minutes, 5 seconds left on Haag’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Ian Drummond. The Braves recovered a fumble at the Liberty 45 with 8 minutes left and got within 21-14 on Haag’s 3-yard touchdown run but never got the ball back.
Liberty, which improved to 5-3 overall, has won four consecutive games in the rivalry and leads the series 6-5.
Olentangy dropped to 3-5 overall and 2-1 in the league and was dealt a setback in its hopes of making the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. The Braves were 12th in Division II, Region 8 entering the game, four spots shy of a playoff berth.
“We just made too many mistakes,” Olentangy coach Mark Solis said. “We did a great job of executing in the second half but not in the first half.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final OLENTANGY 0 0 0 14 14 OLENTANGY LIBERTY 0 21 0 0 21
OL—Okuley 5 run (Kershner kick)
OL—Wilson 49 pass from Okuley (Kershner kick)
OL—Miley 11 pass from Okuley (Kershner kick)
O—Drummond 12 pass from Haag (Pethtel kick)
O—Haag 3 run (Pethtel kick)