TIFFIN — For at least another week, the Olentangy football team plans to play its underdog status, self-appointed or otherwise, to the hilt during its run through the Division II, Region 7 playoffs.
The sixth-seeded Braves used a dominant showing from their offensive line to run for 216 yards and control the second half of a 31-21 win over previously undefeated and second-seeded Whitehouse Anthony Wayne in a regional semifinal Nov. 15 at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.
Landon Johnson rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns, Ethan Hand and Trent Maddox each added touchdown runs and Maddox completed 14 of 21 passes for 155 yards as Olentangy improved to 7-5.
The Braves advanced into the regional final against top-seeded Toledo Central Catholic on Nov. 22 at a neutral site, while Anthony Wayne finished 11-1.
“We won the battle up front. We were the more physical team. We executed really well,” Olentangy coach Mark Solis said. “Our tempo gave them problems. Our schedule had us prepared for another game like this, just like I think it will next week.
“I had an angry football team (Nov. 15). We saw comments where it looked like Anthony Wayne was looking ahead to the regional final and our guys honed that anger in the right way, between the lines, cleanly but physically.”
The Braves averaged 116.1 yards rushing per game during the regular season but have amassed 492 yards on the ground in two playoff contests.
“We’ve been going tempo really fast. Our line has done a great job, our backs are hitting holes and we’re getting huge plays in the run game,” Maddox said. “Coach Solis did a great job calling 50-50 run-and-pass and we thought we’d be able to run the ball a lot. That’s what we did.”
Olentangy trailed 14-7 in the second quarter but pulled within four points on Hayden Olcott’s 42-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
Maddox scored from 12 yards out to cap the Braves’ first drive of the second half, and after the teams exchanged punts, Anthony Wayne’s Jacob Potkanowicz — who was playing quarterback in place of injured starter Mason Alberts — fumbled a fair catch and Olentangy recovered at the Generals’ 34-yard line.
Five plays later, Johnson scored from 21 yards to make it 24-14.
Anthony Wayne answered with Ezra Scott’s 3-yard touchdown run, but Johnson scored from 9 yards with 4:59 left to seal the win.
“Our (offensive) line played awesome as a unit,” Hand said. “We played together and executed. It’s as simple as that.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final OLENTANGY 7 3 14 7 31 ANTHONY WAYNE
7 7 7 0 21
O—Hand 1 run (Olcott kick)
AW—Scott 27 run (Hamid kick)
AW—Scott 8 run (Hamid kick)
O—Olcott 42 FG
O—Maddox 12 run (Olcott kick)
O—Johnson 21 run (Olcott kick)
AW—Scott 3 run (Hamid kick)
O—Johnson 9 run (Olcott kick)