With its offense struggling, the Olentangy Liberty football team turned to its defense to survive a battle of unbeatens Oct. 4 at Westerville Central.
Kaden Tong’s 15-yard fumble return for a score in the third quarter helped lift the Patriots to a 17-7 win over the Warhawks.
Liberty improved to 6-0 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Buckeye Division, while Central fell to 5-1 and 0-1.
“Our defense was unbelievable tonight,” Liberty coach Steve Hale said. “We kept putting our defense in a bad spot in the first quarter and they kept coming away with no points. Sometimes you just have to fight through it and battle through it.”
Trailing 7-3 late in the third quarter, Tong and teammate Dylan Stevens turned in the biggest play of the game when Stevens forced a Rickey Hyatt fumble on a screen pass and Tong scooped up the loose ball for the go-ahead score.
Liberty added an insurance score with its most impressive drive of the night, with Aidan Kenley capping an 80-yard march with a 1-yard run. The drive was aided by a roughing the passer call against the Warhawks, giving Liberty a first down at its 39.
Central opened the scoring on Judah Holtzclaw’s 22-yard touchdown pass to Jace Jarvis in the second quarter.
Quarterback Jackson Roberts completed seven of 16 passes for 117 yards to lead the Patriots.
Hyatt rushed for 100 yards on 20 carries and Holtzclaw completed 17 of 35 passes for 147 yards.
Central had a 251-125 advantage in total yards.
“Our defense played pretty well,” Central coach Brent Morrison said. “The other two phases of the ball definitely have to get back on track. We’ll be fine. This group of kids will keep playing for each other. They’ll do a great job and we’ll rebound.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final OLENTANGY LIBERTY 0 3 7 7 17 WESTERVILLE CENTRAL
7 0 0 0 7
WC—Jarvis 22 pass from Holtzclaw (Giammarco kick)
OL—Rosselli 35 FG
OL—Tong 15 fumble return (Rosselli kick)
OL—Kenley 1 run (Rosselli kick)