Offensively, the Licking Heights High School football team clearly was deeper and more talented than neighboring Watkins Memorial, which in coach Jeff Severino's first season remains in a transitional phase.
The visiting Hornets finally showed it nearly three full quarters and about15 hours after the opening kickoff in the "Battle For Broad Street," ripping off 27 unanswered points when the suspended game resumed last Saturday morning to pull away for the Warriors 41-14 and retain the plaque awarded annually to the victor.
"Our kids played hard," said Severino, whose team slipped to 1-1 as the Hornets improved to 2-0. "In that last quarter, their size and speed made it difficult."
Tied at 14 at the half when a severe thunderstorm moved over central Ohio last Friday night to force one of several lightning delays, the 32 nd meeting between the two schools remained a stalemate until the final play of the third quarter, when Dan Pennington took a third-down pitch from quarterback Shawn Smith and scored on a 6-yard touchdown run.
A missed extra-point kept the Warriors' hopes alive, but Licking Heights did little else wrong. They tacked on three more touchdowns and won for the second time since the rivalry was renewed in 2006 while narrowing Watkins Memorial's all-time advantage to 18-12-2.
"We came back and maybe played a little more relaxed," Hornets coach Darren Waters said.
Smith's 15-yard scramble on third-and-5 was good for another touchdown and 26-14 lead with 9 minutes, 48 seconds remaining. It seemed to zap what remaining life the Warriors had left. Additional touchdown runs by Storm Timson (1 yard) and Pennington (6) completed the scoring. Pennington finished with 118 yards on 16 carries, and the Hornets were able to overcome 13 penalties totaling 120 yards with the late onslaught.
"It was just a tackle-lead play," Smith said of his touchdown run. "I told my boy (lineman) Cody Denig to just lead me there. Nobody can stop that play. We were going to run it last (Friday night) but we got delayed before we could use it."
Defensively, the Hornets have allowed only one touchdown in two games after shutting out Philo 27-0 in the Aug. 22 opener. Watkins Memorial scored first last Friday when Matt Truex returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown and quick 7-0 advantage. The other score came on Tyler Richardson's 60-yard reception just before the first half ended and the storm hit. Truex managed just 36 yards on 15 rushes against a defensive front keyed in part by senior end Dereke Acosta. Phillip Grizer had two interceptions and Pennington one.
"I can't say enough about the job (defensive coordinator Bo) Ramsey is doing," Waters said. "And Dereke Acosta, he's playing like he wants to make all-state."