It didn't involve any celebrities or uncover facts lost to history, but the drama written Sept. 23 in Tiger Stadium provided plenty of the unpredictable and the noteworthy for fans of the Pickerington High School Central and North football teams.

It didn't involve any celebrities or uncover facts lost to history, but the drama written Sept. 23 in Tiger Stadium provided plenty of the unpredictable and the noteworthy for fans of the Pickerington High School Central and North football teams.

The second half featured four lead changes, flashes of brilliance on special teams and a game-winning touchdown during the final minute of the Tigers' 24-21 victory.

"If I wanted to write a New York Times best seller, this is how I'd write it," Tigers senior wide receiver, defensive back and kicker Jake Raymond said.

After Central improved to 5-0 in its series against North, the next chapter for both teams shifted to playing for the OCC-Ohio Division championship and competing for a postseason berth.

Some of that likely would have been different if the Panthers had held on.

Central, which opened with losses to Cincinnati Moeller (14-0 on Aug. 26) and Cincinnati St. Xavier (38-21 on Sept. 4) but is now 2-2 overall and 2-0 in the league, has little margin for error in its hope of making the Division I, Region 3 playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

The Tigers play Friday, Sept. 30, at Gahanna, which is 4-1 and 2-0. A win by Central would provide another boost in computer points.

North is 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the league as it travels Friday, Sept. 30, to Reynoldsburg, which is 4-1 and 2-0.

"We knew that if we (lost) that game, we're not going to make the playoffs and our senior year would be over," Tigers quarterback Nick Jensen-Clagg said. "It gives us big momentum, and now we're 2-2 and the playoffs are in our hands."

Statistically, Central held the advantage in total yards (291-196), passing yards (234-74) and time of possession (25:59-22:01), and also committed fewer penalties (nine for 58 yards for North, five for 32 for Central).

The Tigers also earned style points for their performance on the winning drive.

With 40.7 seconds remaining, Jensen-Clagg hooked up with Billy Eakins for a 16-yard touchdown to complete a 45-yard drive that took just 23 seconds.

North committed three illegal substitution penalties during the second half that were the result of adding a new formation earlier in the week, according to coach Tom Phillips.

The Panthers opened with four consecutive wins including over 2010 playoff qualifiers Watterson (38-3 on Aug. 26) and Northland (33-0 on Sept. 9).

In addition to facing Reynoldsburg, North still must play at home against Gahanna (Oct. 7) and Lancaster (Oct. 14).

The Panthers have gotten a lift this season from a combination of having returning two-way regulars such as Pat Elflein, Jake Butt, Seth Gamby and Luke Carothers and newcomers such as Tabeal Radney and Godwin Igwebuike.

Radney, a transfer from Reynoldsburg, returned a punt 47 yards for a touchdown against Central to give North a 21-17 lead. He also batted down a pass from Jensen-Clagg on fourth-and-goal from the 3.

Igwebuike leads the Panthers in rushing yards (361), is second in receptions (seven) and is a starting defensive back along with Radney. Igwebuike attended Central as a freshman before sitting out last season after transferring to North.

"(Central) just executed," Phillips said. "I thought our kids gave it everything they had. Hopefully we can be a better football team from this. We're 4-1 and hopefully we can learn from this game. I'm very happy with our kids not giving up after we fell behind 10-0 early."

Although the Tigers were held to 57 yards rushing on 35 carries against North, they found ways to utilize running back Billy Eakins, Raymond and Andrew Meyer.

Eakins rushed for 46 yards and two touchdowns and had seven catches for 93 yards and a score. Raymond had three catches for 64 yards and Meyer added 34 yards on two catches during the winning drive. Jensen-Clagg was 16-for-26 passing.

"Now we're tied for the lead in the OCC," Central coach Jay Sharrett said. "This is where we wanted to be, and now (we want to) stay in the hunt for the OCC and for the playoffs."