The Upper Arlington High School football team continued its domination of long-time rival Thomas Worthington, holding off the Cardinals 14-7 on Friday, Sept. 16 in the OCC-Central Division opener for both teams.
The Golden Bears lead the series — which began in 1926 — 46-10-1 and have lost only once to the Cardinals (17-9 in 2009) since 2000.
“I thought we ran the ball well at times but we have to do better and we’ve got to be balanced when we’re throwing,” said Upper Arlington coach Mike Golden, whose team improved to 3-1 overall. “We’ve got to be able to hit plays and protect our quarterback.”
UA opened the scoring in the second quarter on a 13-yard run by Gus Ackley, but Thomas coach Scott Gordon was pleased with his team’s performance on defense.
“I think we played pretty well against the run. They had a couple big plays on us but really not a whole lot,” said Gordon, whose squad fell to 1-3. “I think our guys played well. We tried to mix in our fronts against them and we were prepared for the run,”
The Bears extended their lead to 14-0 in the fourth quarter when quarterback David Smith connected with receiver Zach Powers for a 4-yard touchdown pass.
Thomas responded with a 2-yard scoring run by Eric Monfort, however, to close the gap to 14-7 with 8 minutes, 20 seconds remaining.
The Cardinals were led by quarterback Jalen Wells, who finished 12 of 24 passing for 139 yards and ran for 63 yards.
“We wanted to mix things up, to both run and pass and be balanced,” Gordon said. “We got to the point where we went to a spread offense, especially in the second half. We felt like we needed to use our speed and hit the perimeter and throw the ball.”
The Thomas defense — which gave up 560 yards to UA a year ago in a 41-0 loss — limited the Bears to 97 yards rushing and 115 yards through the air.
”We just didn’t make enough plays when we had to,” Gordon said. “There were a couple of unfortunate momentum shifters, but hopefully we’ll be able to learn from this game.”
On the Cardinals’ final possession which started at their own 20, a pass by Wells deflected off a foot of UA linebacker Eddie Miller and was intercepted by cornerback Alex Husted with just over a minute remaining and the Bears were able to run out the clock.
“It’s a great feeling,” Husted said. “Eddie kicked it with his foot and I was lucky enough to get it. I stood in my zone and did my responsibility.”
“We have to start realizing that (Thomas is) really invested in this rivalry, and we have to start investing in it,” Golden said. “I was real worried about this game. We had come off two very emotional games … and we just didn’t respond as well as I though we would, but we won.”
UPPER ARLINGTON 0 7 0 7 -- 14
THOMAS 0 0 0 7 -- 7
UA--Gus Ackley 13 run (Pesavento kick)
UA--Francis Wilamosky 4 run (Pesavento kick)
TW--Eric Monfort 2 run (Shary kick)