The Gahanna Lincoln High School football team defeated Groveport 47-13 on Friday, Oct. 28, to secure a spot in the Division I state playoffs for the first time since 2007.
"This is absolutely huge for the program, the school, and the community," Gahanna coach John Snoad said. "This is where Gahanna belongs. It's been a long road, and we owe everything to these kids for believing in our coaching staff and believing in what we were trying to teach them."
The Lions’ last playoff appearance was a 28-21 loss to Dublin Coffman in a first-round game.
Gahanna, which entered the game sixth in the Division I, Region 3 rankings, improved to 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division. Pickerington Central defeated Reynoldsburg 42-14 to win the OCC-Ohio at 7-0.
The key to the victory came early in the game when the Lions stopped the Cruisers on fourth-and-goal from the Gahanna 4-yard line. Melvin Smith, who had gained 47 yards on five carries on the drive, was stopped by Gahanna linebacker Mitchell Rowell.
"It was huge," Snoad said. "The defense had to step up and there were a number of stops that I thought were big."
After Rowell’s stop, Gahanna pushed its lead to 14-0 as running back Aaron Roberson scored on a 19-yard run. Roberson also scored the Lions’ first touchdown on a 4-yard pass from quarterback Tyler Grassman.
Grassman completed 16 of 21 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 173 yards and a touchdown.
"Honestly, it was our offensive line," Grassman said. "They really played together tonight. There was always a hole. I didn't see anyone miss a block. The hole was always wide open, and I just followed my blocking."
Also for the Lions, Julian Lowe had five receptions for 103 yards, including a 22-yard scoring pass that pushed the lead to 20-7, and Sante Cook had eight receptions for 55 yards.
Cook and Lowe also each recorded an interception.
The Cruisers were able to move the ball by way of Smith and quarterback Shane Denny but had little success elsewhere.
"I thought Groveport came out with a good game plan," Snoad said. "We didn't play assignment football early on, and I thought they took advantage of that. We knew Shane Denny was a good player, and he did some great things with the ball handling."
Denny was just 3-for-13 passing for 43 yards and rushed for 103 yards on 19 carries, including a 36-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 20-13 in the third quarter. Smith had 135 yards rushing, including a 39-yard scoring run, on 22 carries.
GROVEPORT 0 0 13 0 - 13
GAHANNA 0 14 13 20 - 47
GL--Roberson 4 from Grassman (Grassman kick)
GL--Roberson 19 run (Grassman kick)
GM--Smith 39 run (Jones kick)
GL--Lowe 22 from Grassman (kick failed)
GM--Denny 36 run (kick failed)
GL--Grassman 2 run (Grassman kick)
GL--Cook 21 from Grassman (kick failed)
GL--Carroll 23 run (Capuano kick)
GL--Davis 24 run (Capuano kick)