By Chris Miles
Dublin, Ohio “They say sometimes it’s better to be lucky than to be good.
However, if you’re lucky enough to be good and things bounce your way… then you’re living really well.
It wasn’t like the Olentangy Berlin High School football team were playing much better than host Dublin Scioto on Friday, but a few rebounds here and there and a call or two that went one way and not the other. proved to be the difference in the visiting Bears’ hard-fought 10-7 victory.
Some may find it ironic that something as trivial as luck came into play in a game against a school that wears Kelly Green, has an Irish nickname, and sports an athletic leprechaun as part of its logo. But there are also people who believe that you create your own luck.
Fortunes swung in Berlin’s favor late in the first half, clinging to a slim 3-0 lead. The Bears penetrated Irish territory with a solid running game and effective short passing game.
This particular drive, however, seemed to stall on Scioto’s 33-yard line. The Bears had a fourth and a 9 and seemed content to go for a long 50-yard field goal from Spencer Conrad. The strong-legged kicker had already connected a 36-yarder in the first quarter to put his team ahead.
But as the Bears field team lined up in formation, a Scioto player jumped offside, shooting a flagstick. Those five yards moved the ball towards the Scioto 28. So instead of attempting a 45-yard field goal, Berlin coach Mark Nori rolled the dice and sent his attack back downfield.
“The first time we were close and it was fourth and one and we took all three (points),” Nori said. “I usually like to take points early in the game. We had some momentum there, we were rolling and it started to stall. I thought we still had some momentum and I tried my luck.
Berlin quarterback Harrison Brewster stepped back to pass and tossed a perfectly pitched ball to the widened Aaron Nebraska in midfield. The play went for nine yards and resulted in the Bears’ first down. On the very next play, Brewster again joined Nebraska, who were again running free in the middle of the secondary, for a 19-yard strike. The score and ensuing PAT put the Bears up, 10-0, with just 1:57 to go in the half.
Berlin used the momentum from that end of the second quarter until the third quarter.
Scioto (0-3) finds itself without a win after three games for the first time since 2009. This team finally rebounded to end the season 5-5. Ireland manager Karl Johnson loved the way his side fought from start to finish and acknowledged that it was the little things that ultimately decided the game.
“There’s not a single thing you can say who lost that game,” said the longtime Irish manager. “We started slow, we had a whole bunch of penalties and went back, we had an offside on a placement try. It was a moment of sudden change and they scored two games later. It was a big game.
“But I loved our fight, I love the way our defense is playing, I love the way our offense fought. We have done good things. Our third possession, we had five first downs, but then we stalled. There are little execution things that we need to be better at, but I like the way we fight. We are improving, we just have to keep moving in that direction.
Scioto refused to back down. His defense limited the Bears’ second-half scoring chances. The Irish finally got on the board when quarterback Byson Arthur found Jerijah Moore on a seven-yard pass with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The home side couldn’t recover the ensuing onside kick. Although he didn’t turn the ball over and didn’t allow play over 20 yards, Scioto was left empty in the winning department. He lost his opener, 35-28, in overtime to Grove City and was shut out, 21-0, by Bishop Watterson in week two.
Nori’s side, meanwhile, improved to 2-1, winning their second game in a row after dropping their opener against Hilliard Bradley.
“We’ve been resilient all year,” he said. “We fought against Bradley and lost and Orange was a tight game. You know there’s nothing easy in this conference. Every game is tough. If you’re not going to fight suddenly opening send to the last game of the match, you will lose.
“Our defense was exceptional. (We allowed) seven points in two games. They keep us in games. At one point they had more yards than us. They were retreating and we were not advancing. We have a good game plan in place week after week. We just need to execute better all around.
For Johnson, he knows good things are on the horizon as long as his team keeps working hard.
“Our kids fight and fight to get better, and if we do this again the wins will come, they will happen. We have to show up tomorrow and come back to work, what other choice do we have? This is what we have to TO DO.