The Pickerington High School North football team bounced back in a big way on Friday, Oct. 14, as the host Panthers blasted Lancaster 49-14.
The Panthers improved to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division while the Golden Gales fell to 3-5 and 1-4.
"We met on Monday morning with our captains, and they knew we had issues throughout the week on sickness and missing practices and due to that we did come out flat against Gahanna,” said North coach Tom Phillips, whose squad lost to Gahanna 24-14 on Oct. 7. “Our coaches and our captains said that they had to step it up this week and they did. Every practice was intense. We had to get that 'mojo' back and we did."
The Panthers, led by quarterback Zach Olszewski and running back Godwin Igwebuike, amassed 444 yards of total offense even though Lancaster nearly doubled their time of possession.
Olszewski completed 12 of 20 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 94 yards and two touchdowns on 12 attempts.
Olszewski’s first touchdown pass, a 41-yarder to Jake Butt, gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead. North extended the margin to 14-0 early in the second quarter after linebacker Warren Stoddard intercepted a pass by freshman quarterback Alex Butsko and returned it to the Gales’ 5-yard line.
Two plays later, Olszewski had his first rushing touchdown from 1 yard.
The Gales cut the deficit to 14-7 when Nick Thompson blocked a punt that was recovered in the end zone by Kevin Gerds.
However, the special teams miscue didn’t slow the Panthers for long as they scored the next 21 points.
Olszewski went 47 yards on a keeper to make the score 21-7 and Igwebuike followed with touchdown runs of 48 and 54 yards.
"Zach Olszewski did a no-huddle offense tonight and orchestrated a couple plays and they gave us a look and he threw the ball,” Phillips said. “We've got to polish up our special teams though if we want to win out."
Olszewski got plenty of support as Igwebuike rushed for 82 yards on 10 carries. Butt had six receptions for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
Sophomore Jordan Chambers closed the scoring with a 53-yard run.
"We were outmanned tonight obviously," Lancaster coach Rob Carpenter said. "That's a good team, and we just didn't have the manpower to play with them tonight, that's all. We have young guys playing out of necessity, but they're getting good playing time so that's what it takes."
Carpenter added that 10 of the team’s 20 seniors had suffered season-ending injuries.
Senior Xavier West scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter for the Gales’ first offensive touchdown in four games.
LANCASTER 0 7 0 7 -- 14
PICKERINGTON NORTH 14 14 7 14 -- 49
PN--Butt 41 pass from Olszewski (Monhollen kick)
PN--Olszewski 1 run (Monhollen kick)
L--Gerds recovered blocked punt (Daugherty kick)
PN--Olszewski 47 run (Monhollen kick)
PN--Igwebuike 48 run (Monhollen kick)
PN--Igwebuike 54 run (Monhollen kick)
L--West 1 run (Daugherty kick)
PN--Butt 10 pass from Olszewski (Monhollen kick)
PN--Chambers 53 run (Holland kick)