The Pickerington High School North football team could have been flat after a heart-breaking 24-21 loss to rival Pickerington Central on Sept. 23.
But that wasn’t the case, as the Panthers, led by their defense, swamped host Reynoldsburg 41-6 in an OCC-Ohio game on Friday, Sept. 30.
North — which forced three Reynoldsburg turnovers in the first half and four in the game — led 14-0 after one quarter and 28-0 at halftime.
“The turnovers were crucial. Our best offense was our defense,” said North coach Tom Phillips, whose team improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Ohio. “They’ve been playing like that all year.
North took advantage of an early fumble by Reynoldsburg running back Jordan Jones for the first score of the game with 9 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Jones was hit and fumbled at his own 26-yard line and the Panthers recovered and scored five plays later on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Zach Olszewski to Jake Butt.
North struck again with a 79-yard touchdown run by Godwin Igwebuike with 4:13 remaining in the first quarter. Igwebuike returned an interception 21 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter and Butt caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Olszewski late in the first half. Igwebuike finished with 11 carries for 135 yards.
“Turnovers will kill you,” said Reynoldsburg coach Buddy White, whose team dropped to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Ohio. “We just never had a chance with all those turnovers. Give credit to Pickerington North. They’re a fine team and they got after it tonight.”
The Panthers scored late in the third quarter when defensive lineman Luke Carothers scooped up a fumble and ran untouched for a 7-yard touchdown.
“We knew we had to bounce back (after the loss to Central) and show everyone we were still in the hunt,” Igwebuike said. “The whole team worked hard and prepared all week for this. I knew I had to help the team and make plays and that’s what I did.”
Phillips said Igwebuike has done it for North all season.
“He’s special. He’s done that week in and week out. He’s been outstanding. He practices hard, watches film and is a great athlete for us.”
North’s Alston Robertson carried 14 times for 79 yards and one touchdown.
Olszewski finished five of 11 passing for 100 yards with the pair of touchdown passes to Butt.
North led 41-0 early in the fourth quarter before the Raiders scored their only touchdown with 6:15 remaining.
Reynoldsburg junior running back Kumar Collins gained 139 yards on 19 carries in the first half. The rest of the Raiders offense gained minus-11 total yards before the break, as quarterback Jordan Aekins was sacked twice. He also threw two interceptions. Collins finished with 23 carries for 147 yards.
North finished with 335 total yards, Reynoldsburg finished with 211 total yards, with 74 of those in the fourth quarter.
PICKERINGTON NORTH 14 14 6 7 – 41
REYNOLDSBURG 0 0 0 6 -- 6
PN--Butt 9 pass from Olszewski (Monhollen kick)
PN--Igwebuike 79 run (Monhollen kick)
PN--Igwebuike 21 interception return (Monhollen kick)
PN--Butt 11 pass from Olszewski (Monhollen kick)
PN--Carothers 7 fumble return (run failed)
PN--Robertson 1 run (Holland kick)
R--Bollinger 2 run (kick failed)