The Olentangy Orange football team redeemed itself against visiting Pickerington North on Nov. 8 in the opening round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs.
The third-seeded Pioneers not only won their first Division I playoff game, but also avenged their only loss of the season by defeating the sixth-seeded Panthers 36-17.
North had won 38-17 at Orange on Sept. 13.
“We wanted this a lot,” Orange quarterback Spencer Hawkins said. “As seniors, we always said we would be the ones to break this streak and win a Division I (playoff) game. Now we did that and we beat a great, great Pickerington North team.”
The Pioneers improved to 10-1 and will play second-seeded Pickerington Central in a regional semifinal Nov. 15 at a neutral site. The Tigers improved to 10-1 after defeating seventh-seeded Reynoldsburg 20-14 on Nov. 8.
North finished 6-5.
Orange was making its fourth consecutive postseason appearance but had lost in the opening round the past three seasons. Coach Zebb Schroeder said that didn’t matter to his players.
“Every year, it’s a different team,” he said. “These kids just came out and worked hard and played hard. They came ready to play.”
The Pioneers jumped out to a 9-0 lead with 10 minutes, 33 seconds left in the first half on field goals of 34, 26 and 39 yards by Jack Behre and would never trail in the contest.
With 5:32 left in the second quarter, North quarterback Jack Sawyer ran for a first down to the Orange 1-yard line but injured himself on the play. He limped off the field and did not return.
“Jack might have torn an MCL (in his left leg) and we kept him out,” North coach Nate Hillerich said. “Jack wanted to go back in the game, but we didn’t want to take a chance on that.”
Sawyer was 8-for-12 passing for 79 yards and had rushed for 25 yards on five carries. He was replaced by Dom Myers, who was 13-for-21 passing for 129 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Myers also led North in rushing with 49 yards on 12 carries.
Chris Scott had 10 catches for 142 yards and a touchdown for the Panthers.
Jake Vanchieri rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries and Hawkins was 11-for-19 passing for 181 yards and two touchdowns to lead Orange. Zane Lattig caught six passes for 85 yards, and Caden Konczak had three receptions for 67 yards and one score.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final PICKERINGTON NORTH 0 7 10 0 17 OLENTANGY ORANGE
6 17 0 13 36
OO—Behre 34 FG
OO—Behre 26 FG
OO—Behre 39 FG
PN—Green 1 run (Pope kick)
OO—Konczak 45 pass from Hawkins (Behre kick)
OO—Wyne 33 pass from Hawkins (Behre kick)
PN—Scott 34 pass from Myers (Pope kick)
PN—Pope 19 FG
OO—Vanchieri 26 run (pass failed)
OO—Vanchieri 44 run (Behre kick)