Running back Conner Jones of the Hilliard Darby football team pounded away at the center of Olentangy’s defensive front — 3 yards here, 4 yards there.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior didn’t expect to get much more room until he found some daylight late in the fourth quarter.

Jones broke free for a 55-yard run that helped set up his 3-yard touchdown with 3 minutes, 18 seconds left. The score sealed the host Panthers’ 23-13 victory over the Braves on Aug. 30 in the season opener for both teams.

“Their defense is hard-nosed, and they get the job done, and all night they were hitting me up the middle,” Jones said. “I found a hole, and I just busted it.”

Jones led Darby’s potent, option-based running game with 133 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. He was one of seven rushers who helped the Panthers amass 288 yards on the ground and hold the ball for nearly 31 minutes.

“(Olentangy) has the ability to score quickly, so it was important to get that long drive and just drain the clock as much as possible,” Darby coach John Santagata said.

After being held to just 67 total yards in the first half, the Braves finally put together a 10-play, 79-yard drive in the fourth quarter. Daniel Kelly caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Trent Maddox to make it 16-6 with 11:55 to play.

Maddox, who competed 18 of 25 passes for 177 yards, connected with Jace Middleton for a 22-yard score with 44 seconds left.

Olentangy coach Mark Solis didn’t hold back in pointing out the work ahead after a Week 1 loss.

“We’re not deep, we’ve got a lot of kids going both ways, we’re not in shape, we made mistakes, we had bad snaps, so we deserved to lose and they deserved to win,” he said.

A turnover spoiled Olentangy’s only scoring opportunity in the first half.

Trailing 7-0 late in the second quarter, the Braves reached the Darby 33-yard line, where Ryan Morbitzer intercepted Maddox around the 10.

The interception lead to Daniel Gajda’s 27-yard field goal that capped a 13-play, 63-yard drive to close the first half, with Darby up 10-0.

The Panthers’ victory is the second in a row over the Braves. Darby defeated Olentangy 17-14 last year to earn its first win over the Braves in eight meetings.

sports@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSports

==========

Team 1 2 3 4 Final OLENTANGY 0 0 0 13 13 HILLIARD DARBY
0 10 6 7 23

HD — Jones 3 run (Gajda kick)

HD — Gajda 27 FG

HD — Williams Jr. 4 run (kick fail)

OL — Kelly 17 pass from Maddox (pass fail)

HD — Jones 3 run (Gajda kick)

OL — Middleton 22 pass from Maddox (Olcott kick)