MANSFIELD — A trio of first-half turnovers that led directly to scores proved to be too much for the Olentangy Liberty High School football team to overcome in a Division I state semifinal Nov. 23 at Arlin Field.

The Patriots, who also lost in state semifinals each of the past two seasons, fell to Lakewood St. Edward 42-16 to finish 9-5, while the Eagles improved to 10-3 and advanced to play Cincinnati Colerain (14-0) in the state final Nov. 30 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

“We had some miscues there early on,” Patriots coach Steve Hale said. “You can’t turn the ball over. When you do that in a game like this, you’re going to have a hard time winning. They’re a very talented team.”

St. Edward, which previously won state titles in 2010, ’14 and ’15, was opportunistic while building a 21-9 halftime lead.

Liberty quarterback Mitchell Okuley threw a 13-yard pass to Aidan Kenley on the game’s opening play but was intercepted on the next play by Caden Kolesar, who returned the ball to the Patriots 18.

Five plays later, Jordan Castleberry scored on a 4-yard run to give St. Edward a 7-0 lead.

On the final play of the first quarter, Liberty’s Nick Paolo stopped Eagles quarterback Garrett Dzuro for a 1-yard gain on fourth-and-2 at the Patriots 45.

Okuley then connected with Chase Miley on a 45-yard pass on the first play of the ensuing drive, and two plays later Okuley ran for an 11-yard touchdown to cut the Patriots’ deficit to 7-6.

Then with eight minutes left in the second quarter, Okuley fumbled directly into the hands of St. Edward’s Lawson Nash, who rumbled for a 53-yard touchdown that gave the Eagles a 14-6 lead.

On the third play of Liberty’s next possession, Okuley was intercepted by Nash, who returned the ball 27 yards to the Patriots 15. That set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Castleberry to make it 21-6.

Liberty’s Mitchell Kershner cut the deficit to 21-9 with a 21-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in the first half, but Dzuro scored on a 23-yard run to cap the opening drive of the third quarter to make it 28-9. The Eagles converted two fourth-down plays on that possession, with Dzuro hitting Christopher Elliott for a 7-yard pass on fourth-and-1 to move his team to the Liberty 29.

Dzuro finished 10-for-12 passing for 138 yards and a touchdown and rushed 16 times for 100 yards and one score.

Okuley rushed for 59 yards and two touchdowns and was 23-for-40 passing for 247 yards. Chase Miley (5 receptions for 74 yards) and Mitchell Kershner (5 receptions for 50 yards) led the Patriots’ receiving corps.

“At halftime, we had 40 more yards than (St. Edward),” Miley said. “Just a couple of mishaps. … But we never quit.”



Team 1 2 3 4 Final


7 14 14 7 42 OLENTANGY LIBERTY 0 9 0 7 16

LSE—Castleberry 4 run (Russo kick)

OL—Okuley 11 run (kick failed)

LSE—Nash 53 fumble return (Russo kick)

LSE—Castleberry 4 run (Russo kick)

OL—Kershner 21 FG

LSE—Dzuro 23 run (Russo kick)

LSE—Kent 48 pass from Dzuro (Russo kick)

OL—Okuley 2 run (Kershner kick)

LSE—Formani 2 run (Russo kick)