Big plays on offense, defense and special teams carried the Pickerington High School Central football team to a 28-7 win over host Gahanna on Friday, Sept. 30.
The Tigers improved to 3-2 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division, while the Lions fell to 4-2 and 2-1.
Tigers wide receiver Roger Lewis, who has verbally committed to Ohio State, returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to tie the score 7-all with 3 minutes, 43 seconds left in the first half. After that, any momentum Gahanna acquired with a strong first half seemed to be diminished.
"After they scored, we're really not used to getting scored on, I just felt I had to put the team on my back," Lewis said. "It did a lot for our momentum. It shifted the game."
Central would score 21 more points thanks to turnovers forced by the defense.
"Gahanna came out and played us toe-to-toe," Central coach Jay Sharrett said. "Our guys went in and regrouped at halftime. One thing that is nice about this team is they are all veterans. They've all been in big games, they don't panic and they listen to their coaches and they make their adjustments."
The Tigers took the lead 14-7 on a 5-yard touchdown run by Billy Eakins with 10 minutes to go in the third quarter. Gahanna quarterback Tyler Grassman was intercepted by Greg Basalyga on the Lions’ first drive after halftime.
"It was a great interception by Greg," Sharrett said. “The other one was Jake Kincaid. Not just the interceptions, they actually returned them a few yards to set up some short-field scores. And with our defense, if we can get a two-score lead, we got a chance to win."
The Kincaid interception came at the end of the third quarter, and Eakins scored on a 24-yard run on the next play to make it 28-7. Eakins finished with 108 yards on 16 carries.
Central quarterback Nick Jensen-Clagg was 6-for-13 for 62 yards and a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jake Raymond.
Grassman completed seven of 13 passes with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Peyton Ross for the game’s first score with 3:57 remaining in the second quarter.
The score was set up by an Aaron Roberson interception that he returned to the Tigers’ 4-yard line.
PICKERINGTON CENTRAL 0 7 21 0 -- 28
GAHANNA 0 7 0 0 -- 7
G--Ross 7 pass from Grassman (Grassman kick)
P--Lewis 98 kick return (Raymond kick)
P--Eakins 5 run (Raymond kick)
P--Raymond 32 pass from Jensen-Clagg (Raymond kick)
P--Eakins 24 run (Raymond kick)