In one of the wildest games of the year, the Liberty Patriots, trailing 28-13 in the second quarter, scored 27 consecutive points and held on to defeat the Westerville South Wildcats 40-35 Friday at Patriot Stadium, collecting a share of the Ohio Capital Conference Cardinal Division title in the bargain.
Liberty (6-4, 5-2 OCC Cardinal) trailed at the outset after an early Westerville South (6-4, 5-2) touchdown, but got that one back when Joey Longhino scored from five yards out with 9:07 left in the opening period.
South scored again not long after, but again the Patriots answered when Longhino scored from four yards out, cutting the deficit to a point, 14-13.
But South’s Kelly Carter ran the ensuing kickoff back 88 yards for a touchdown, and Daxton Cates scored on a three-yard run with 4:48 left in the second quarter, putting the Wildcats ahead by 15 points.
But Liberty rallied back within eight when Luke Fleming scored from a yard out with 1:20 left before halftime, and tied the game eight seconds before the break when Longhino connected on an eight-yard pass to Bryson Wray.
Liberty took its first lead with 3:43 left in the third quarter when Longhino scored from 20 yards out and earned some insurance in the fourth when Myles Robinson scored on a 21-yard run with 10:35 left in the game.
South’s Noah Prentiss trimmed the Patriot lead to five with a three-yard touchdown run with 2:14 left, but the Liberty defense held fast the rest of the way.
Robinson topped all rushers with 121 yards on 22 carries with one touchdown, but Longhino was the big story, rushing 15 times for 42 yards and three touchdowns while completing 18 of 33 passes for 192 yards and another score.
Wray led the Patriot receivers with seven catches for 80 yards and a score, while Phil Osolinski added six receptions for 74 yards.