The Pickerington High School Central football team rallied from a pair of second-half deficits to beat visiting Pickerington North 24-21 on Friday, Sept. 23, in the ThisWeekSPORTS.com Game of the Week.
The Tigers’ Billy Eakins caught a pass from Nick Jensen-Clagg on the right side of the field and ran into the end zone for the winning 16-yard touchdown with 40.7 seconds remaining.
The Panthers had three plays on their final possession, but Zach Olszewski threw an incomplete pass and was sacked on consecutive plays to seal the win for Central.
After the Tigers lost their first two games, they improved to 2-2 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division. North slipped to 4-1 and 1-1.
“We’ve been working on (the pass play to Eakins) for the last couple weeks,” Jensen-Clagg said. “I saw the cornerback break to the other side, so I knew he was open.”
The Tigers took a 10-0 lead when Eakins ran in from 9 yards with 2:49 to go in the opening quarter.
North cut it to 10-7 with 17.3 seconds left before halftime when Seth Gamby hit an open Jamie Hence for a 43-yard halfback pass.
In the third quarter, the Panthers’ Tabeal Radney returned a punt 53 yards for a touchdown but the play was called back because of an illegal block. North responded five plays later when Godwin Igwebuike scored on a 27-yard run to give his team a 14-10 lead.
Central retook the lead at 17-14 with 11:42 remaining on a 1-yard run by Eakins that completed a seven-play, 33-yard drive. A 10-yard punt return by Roger Lewis set up the drive.
The Tigers’ Marcus Milton intercepted a pass by Olszewski at the Central 18 on the ensuing drive, but North forced a punt that Radney returned 47 yards for a score with 8:24 to go.
Central was on the verge of scoring on the next drive, but Radney knocked away a pass by Jensen-Clagg on fourth-and-goal from the 3 with 4:14 remaining.
The Tigers forced a punt on the next drive and began their winning possession at the North 45 with 1:03 left.
“Our kids expect victory, and I know they played hard,” said Panthers coach Tom Phillips, whose team fell to 0-5 all-time against the Tigers. “We’ve got to stop the big play down at the end. With a minute left, we’ve got to finish the game.”
NORTH 0 7 7 7 -- 21
CENTRAL 10 0 0 14 -- 24
PC--Raymond 28 FG
PC--Eakins 9 run (Raymond kick)
PN--Hence 43 pass from Gamby (Monhollen kick)
PN--Igwebuike 27 run (Monhollen kick)
PC--Eakins 1 run (Raymond kick)
PN--Radney 47 punt return (Monhollen kick)
PC--Eakins 16 pass from Jensen-Clagg (Raymond kick)