In terms of playoff berths, the Nov. 1 meeting between the Olentangy Orange football team and host Westerville South meant nothing.
According to joeeitel.com, both teams entered the game having already clinched postseason appearances, but the Pioneers had one more task to cross off their list — an outright OCC-Buckeye Division championship.
Orange took control in the third quarter, scoring three touchdowns in less than four minutes, on its way to a 42-24 win over South and an undefeated run through the league.
The Pioneers improved to 9-1 overall and finished 5-0 in the OCC-Buckeye, while the Wildcats fell to 6-4 overall and finished 2-3 in the league.
“Going into halftime … we knew we were capable of so much more, and in the third quarter, it started clicking,” Orange quarterback Spencer Hawkins said. “We got in our rhythm and stayed in it.”
The Pioneers trailed 17-14 after Michael Mansaray gave South its first lead on a 4-yard touchdown run with 7 minutes, 22 seconds left in the third quarter.
Then Hawkins took over, striking with big scoring plays. He hit Sam Wyne for a 26-yard touchdown and connected with Caden Konczak from 64 yards.
Hawkins, who completed 14 of 24 passes for 218 yards, closed the third-quarter scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run that extended Orange’s lead to 35-17.
“Our seniors were at their best when we needed it the most,” Orange coach Zebb Schroeder said. “I told our guys this week I thought our seniors were playing their best football right now.”
Another Orange senior, Jake Vanchieri, also had a big game, rushing for 151 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
His 5-yard touchdown run put the Pioneers up 14-3 with 48 seconds left in the second quarter.
But Kaden Saunders made sure the Wildcats would gain momentum before halftime by returning the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a score.
South, however, committed three turnovers and had eight penalties for 65 yards.
“From an execution standpoint, we had too many penalties throughout the evening, and we missed on a couple big shots that I thought we had a high probability of coming down with,” Wildcats coach Matthew Christ said. “Then they hit a couple home runs.”
Mansaray finished with 98 yards on 26 carries.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final OLENTANGY ORANGE 0 14 21 7 42 WESTERVILLE SOUTH
0 10 7 7 24
OO—Hawkins 28 run (Behre kick)
WS—Bame 36 FG
OO—Vanchieri 5 run (Behre kick)
WS—Saunders 85 kickoff return (Bame kick)
WS—Mansaray 4 run (Bame kick)
OO—Wyne 26 pass from Hawkins (Behre kick)
OO—Konczak 64 pass from Hawkins (kick failed)
OO—Hawkins 1 run (Hawkins run)
OO—Vanchieri 13 run (Behre kick)
WS—Gore 59 run (Bame kick)