Justin Rader knew he had to get to the end zone.
The junior defensive back for the Olentangy Berlin football team intercepted a tipped pass and returned the ball 40 yards for a touchdown with 3 minutes, 5 seconds remaining to help the host Bears secure a 32-21 victory over Delaware on Sept. 20 in the OCC-Cardinal Division opener for both teams.
It marks the first OCC-Cardinal victory for Berlin, which went 0-7 in the league last year in its inaugural season.
The Bears, who scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 21-10 deficit, improved to 2-2, while the Pacers fell to 2-2.
“The pass tipped the receiver’s hands and I just was able get it,” Rader said. “My teammates were there in front of me opening things up and I was just happy to get in there for us.”
Just 48 seconds prior to Rader’s touchdown, Jacob Moeller scored on a 36-yard run to give the Bears a 25-21 lead.
“That’s the first time you have seen that from me,” Moeller said of side-stepping defenders on his touchdown run. “I wasn’t really thinking, but knew I had to get the end zone. We really needed it.”
Antonio Alonso sacked Delaware quarterback Blake Eiland on fourth down at the Delaware 40 with 2:18 left and the Bears ran out the clock.
There was a 65-minute lightning delay that began with Delaware leading 14-3 with 6:49 left in the second quarter.
Berlin came out firing after the delay, forcing the Pacers to punt before embarking on a three-play, 48-yard drive capped with a 30-yard touchdown run by Moeller with 4:45 left in the first half. The drive was aided by a pass-interference call against Delaware.
“They had all of the momentum going into that lightning break,” Berlin coach Mark Nori said. “We talked about that and just as we learned from losing, now we can learn from winning.”
With Delaware leading 7-3, Berlin fumbled a shot-gun snap and the Pacers’ Keishawn Mack recovered the ball at the Bears’ 4-yard line. One play later, Jahi Broussard-Nash ran in for a touchdown to give the Pacers a 14-3 lead with 52 seconds left in the first quarter.
Both teams scored on their opening drives. Jacob Lewis kicked a 43-yard field goal for Berlin and Luke Jackson had a 2-yard touchdown run for Delaware.
Moeller rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and completed 11 of 21 passes for 102 yards, and Bears running back Johnny Spinner rushed for 117 yards and one score on 26 carries.
Eiland rushed for 91 yards on 19 carries to lead the Pacers, and Broussard-Nash added 72 yards rushing and one touchdown on 13 carries.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final DELAWARE HAYES 14 0 7 0 21 OLENTANGY BERLIN
3 7 0 22 32
OB—Lewis 43 FG
D—Jackson 2 run (Klumpp kick)
D—Broussard-Nash 4 run (Klumpp kick):
OB—Moeller 30 run (Lewis kick)
D—Cooper 5 pass from Eiland (Klumpp kick)
OB—Spinner 20 run (A. Pettograsso from Moeller)
OB—Moeller 36 run (Lewis kick)
OB—Rader 40 interception return (Lewis kick)