The Gahanna Lincoln High School football team’s defense has been stingy all season.
That was the case again Friday, Sept. 23, as the Lions defeated Lancaster 17-0 to improve to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division. The Lions’ defense held Lancaster to 107 yards rushing on 46 carries, and the offense capitalized on two Golden Gales fumbles by scoring on the drives that followed.
"Defense always wins games, and defense wins championships,” Gahanna coach John Snoad said. “We played championship defense right from the get to."
Lancaster, which dropped to 2-3 and 0-2, managed only 112 total yards.
Holding a three-point lead early in the third quarter, the Lions punted to Lancaster's Ethan Jones, who made contact with the ball and Gahanna recovered at the Gales’ 9-yard line.
On the ensuing play, Gahanna quarterback Tyler Grassman found Mitchell Rowell for a touchdown, extending the Lions lead to 10-0 after Grassman's extra point.
"You can't expect to win this conference if you don't play well," Snoad said. "Thank God our defense was lights out. They really set us up."
After Rowell’s touchdown, the Gahanna defense stepped up once again.
Brian Snoad and Granyl Smith made consecutive tackles for losses before Brian Snoad sacked Lancaster quarterback Riley Theiss for a 5-yard loss.
"I think our defense did very well," Smith said. "A week of practice with coaches changing the defense, we were able to come off the edge to try and stop the slots. And we were able to contain the quarterback."
Gahanna is 2-0 in the league for the first time since 2008 and has allowed single-digit points three times this season. It also was the second shutout for Gahanna, which beat Strongsville 31-0 on Sept. 2.
Lancaster's defense also played well, coach Rob Carpenter said.
"It wasn't preparation," Carpenter said. "We had a really good week at practice and the defense played playoff-caliber defense. We made some mistakes that really put the defense in short fields. Offensively, we've got to figure something out."
The Lions put the game away when fullback Jesse Kendrick scored on a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The score was set up by a fumble by Lancaster running back Brandon Meadows. The following drive was highlighted by a 20-yard run by Grassman to the Gales’ 2-yard line.
Grassman was 13-for-21 passing for 110 yards with one touchdown. He also made a 42-yard field goal to end the first half.
Offensively for Lancaster, Russ King rushed for 48 yards on 13 carries. Luke Roberts and Meadows contributed 25 yards each.
LANCASTER 0 0 0 0 -- 0
GAHANNA 0 3 7 7 -- 17
G--Grassman 42 FG
G--Rowell 9 pass from Grassman (Grassman kick)
G--Kendrick 2 run (Grassman kick)