Braves run away from Golden Eagles, 40-24
By GARY HENERY
News Managing Editor
The fourth quarter belonged to the Braves.
Olentangy rallied from an early fourth-quarter 24–21 deficit to score 20 points in the final 10:59 to hand Big Walnut a 40–24 defeat in the Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division opener for both teams Friday night at Golden Eagle Stadium in Sunbury.
Olentangy (4–0, 1–0 OCC), looking to avenge last season’s 41–13 road loss to the Golden Eagles, dominated the final period on both sides of the ball. After Alex Clark booted a 21-yard field goal to give Big Walnut (2–2, 0–1 OCC) a 24–20 advantage 61 seconds into the fourth quarter, the Braves went to work.
The Braves answered with an 8-play, 65-yard drive capped by junior back Hayden Hunter’s 5-yard run to give the Braves a 27–24 lead with 7:40 to play.
The Olentangy defense took over from there, ending the Golden Eagles last three possessions with interceptions, the first two setting up touchdowns to seal the victory for the Braves, while limiting Big Walnut to 26 yards in 7 plays.
The first theft saw Olentangy senior defensive back Ramal Iverson step in front of a Carson Chatterton pass at the Big Walnut 42 and return it to the Golden Eagle 31. Four plays later, senior runningback Luke Hartline scored from 2 yards out to make it 34–24 with 4:31 to play.
On the Golden Eagles’ next series, sophomore linebacker Anthony Golden followed Iverson’s lead by picking off a Chatterton pass at the Golden Eagle 32 and returning it to the BW 8-yard line. Following a 1-yard loss Horstman rolled out to his right and scored on a 9-yard run with 2:32 remaining for the 40–24 final score.
The Olentangy defense put an exclamation point on the victory as junior linebacker Tim Feasel recorded the third interception of the period to seal the comeback victory.
“Our players never quit … they continued to play hard and make the plays we needed to make to be successful tonight,” veteran Olentangy head coach Ed Terwilliger said. “Big Walnut has a good football team, and they are tough to beat at home … I was really proud with the way our guys responded after falling behind going into the fourth quarter.”
With the victory, Olentangy evened the all-time series record between the two Delaware County rivals at 24–24. With the win, the Braves have won six of the last nine meetings. Last night’s victory was the first for Olentangy since the 2009 season when the Braves shut out the Golden Eagles 17–0. Big Walnut had won the two games prior to this season, winning 13–10 in 2010 and 41–13 last season.
“We just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter,” Big Walnut head coach Joe Weaver said. “Olentangy comes out and plays hard and physically wears opponents down … they are a very athletic football team. For the first three quarters we matched up well with them and did a good job executing our game plan, but we were unable to answer in the final 11 minutes.”
The opening quarter was an offensive shootout as each team scored two touchdowns to go into the second period deadlocked at 14–14. Olentangy opened the scoring as Horstman tossed a 45-yard scoring pass to senior wide receiver Christian Brett. Big Walnut answered as Chatterton found senior wide receiver Seth Myers on a 15-yard scoring strike to tie the game at 7–7. It didn’t take the Braves long to answer as Brett took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 77 yards for a touchdown and a 14–7 Olentangy lead. On the final play of the opening period, Chatterton and senior wide receiver Adam Shaheen combined on a 25-yard TD pass to send the game into the second quarter deadlocked at 14–14.
Olentangy turn to its kicking game to take a 20–14 lead behind the field goal efforts of junior kicker Josh Baumbach who booted a 29-yard field goal with 0:50.5 seconds remaining in the opening half and 28-yarder with 7:14 left in the third quarter before Big Walnut re-awakened its attack to take its 24–20 lead.
Following Baumbach’s second three-pointer, the Golden Eagles mounted a 10-play 65-yard touchdown drive highlighted by Myers’ diving catch of a Chatterton pass at the Olentangy 11 on a third-and-5 call from the Braves’ 15-yard line. Four plays later Chatterton powered his way into the end zone on a fourth-and-goal call from the one to give Big Walnut a 21–20 lead with 2:34 left in the third quarter.
Big Walnut got the ball right back before the quarter ended as Myers pounced on a Brett fumble at the Olentangy 40. Following Chatterton’s 31-yard strike to Myers at the Braves’ 10, Clark booted his 21-yard field goal to give the Golden Eagles what would be their final lead.
Horstman led the Olentangy attack with 195 yards in total offense, completing 11 of 17 passes for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns while rushing for 35 yards in 10 carries. Brett added 97 yards on the ground while junior Maleke Mitchell contributed 65 in 6 carries.
For Big Walnut, Chatterton led the way as the senior quarterback connected on 20 of 32 passes for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns. Chatterton also rushed for a touchdown. Myers caught 9 passes for 109 yards while senior wide receiver Gabe Kitchen had 5 receptions for 59 yards and Shaheen 2 for 47 yards.