The Gahanna Lincoln High School football scored 24 points in the first quarter and went on to defeat Westerville Central 38-21 in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs on Saturday, Nov. 5.
The Lions scored on defense, offense, and special teams to take a 24-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes. Senior Aaron Roberson intercepted the first pass by Central quarterback Cody Kondas and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown, senior Brandon Shirey scored on an 82-yard screen pass and senior Julian Lowe returned a punt 37 yards for a touchdown.
Senior Tyler Grassman also added a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter for the Lions, who improved to 9-2 and advanced to a regional semifinal for the first time since 2006. Gahanna defeated Lancaster 33-28 that year before losing to Dublin Coffman 35-23.
Westerville Central finished 8-3 while making the first playoff appearance in school history.
"It's awesome," said Gahanna coach John Snoad, whose team will face Pickerington Central in the second round on Saturday, Nov. 12 looking to avenge a 28-7 OCC-Ohio loss on Sept. 30. "The kids give us everything they have and they do everything we ask. It's just a great feeling right now."
Despite the early deficit, Westerville Central rallied to within 24-21 with 4 minutes, 50 seconds left in the third quarter.
"Obviously, the early part of the game killed us," Central coach John Magistro said. "They're a good football team. They matched us with their speed and tonight our mistakes cost us but I'm really proud of our kids."
With the score 24-21, Grassman connected on a 21-yard touchdown pass to senior Sante Cook to push the lead to 31-21.
"I told Grassman, ‘Hit me with the fade route. I'm going to give it to him,’” Cook said.
Cook then ended the ensuing Central drive when he wrestled the ball away from receiver Max Shawver for an interception to seal the win.
Grassman finished 11-for-15 passing for 224 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 104 yards on 25 carries with one touchdown. Cook had two catches for 38 yards, including the touchdown.
Shirey added 93 yards receiving on three receptions, including his 82-yard score in the opening quarter.
Kondas was 9-for-23 passing for 288 yards with two touchdowns but was intercepted three times. Kondas also added 34 yards rushing with a 13-yard score.
Shawver had four receptions for 110 yards, including a 87-yard score. Senior Channing Doermann added 105 yards on three receptions, with a 77-yard touchdown.
GAHANNA 24 0 0 14 -- 38
WESTERVILLE CENTRAL 7 0 14 0 -- 21
G--Roberson 74 interception return (Grassman kick)
G--Shirey 82 pass from Grassman (Grassman kick)
G--Grassman 40 FG
G--Lowe 37 punt return (Grassman kick)
WC--Shawver 87 pass from Kondas (Robertson kick)
WC--Doernmann 77 pass from Kondas (Robertson kick)
WC--Kondas 13 run (Robertson kick)
G--Cook 21 pass from Grassman (Grassman kick)
G--Grassman 1 run (Grassman kick)