In what was a much-anticipated matchup between two central Ohio powers, the Pickerington High School Central football team turned in a dominating performance to defeat Hilliard Davidson 24-0 in the Division I, Region 3 final on Saturday, Nov. 19, at Ohio Wesleyan University.
Central improved to 10-2 and advanced to play Cincinnati St. Xavier in a state semifinal Nov. 26 at a site to be determined.
The Tigers, who lost to St. Xavier 38-21 on Sept. 4, also avenged a 13-6 loss to Davidson in the regional final last year.
Central and Davidson now have split their last four playoff meetings, with the Wildcats also winning 17-7 in the second round in 2009 and the Tigers winning 7-3 in a regional final in 2008.
The top seed in the region, Davidson finished 11-1.
“That was a good, hard-fought game,” Central coach Jay Sharrett said. “Our kids came out and played great football. I’m really proud of them. In the first half, we moved the ball really well and we tackled very well. That’s one thing you have to do against this team.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Tigers took control in the second quarter, taking a 10-0 lead into halftime.
The key play of the quarter came 52 seconds in when running back Billy Eakins broke free for a 53-yard gain, giving the Tigers a first down at the Davidson 10-yard line.
Three plays later, quarterback Nick Jensen-Clagg connected with wide receiver Roger Lewis on an 8-yard touchdown pass with 9:56 left in the quarter.
The Tigers scored again on their next possession, as Jake Raymond capped a 13-play, 63-yard drive with a 22-yard field goal with 2:44 remaining in the half.
Meanwhile, Davidson’s potent ground game was unable to get untracked in the first half, as the Wildcats managed just 34 yards and one first down.
Central outgained Davidson 178-34 in the first half.
The Tigers pulled away in the fourth quarter, as Eakins scored on a 9-yard run with 9:27 left and Adam Clopton capped the scoring with a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown with 2:10 left.
Eakins finished with 156 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
“We just practiced really hard,” Eakins said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game coming in, so we knew everybody had to be clicking. When they shut somebody down, another person could be doing what they had to do. We had to practice hard this week for a good team.”
Davidson was limited to a season-low 101 yards rushing on 34 carries.
The fourth quarter was marred by the ejection of Davidson coach Brian White with 5:26 left for arguing the second of two illegal blocks called against his defense.
“I screwed that up at the end big time,” White said. “I feel bad for our kids. I didn’t set a very good example. I always give our kids credit for showing class and I didn’t show very much at the end.”
Davidson senior linebacker Jake Himmeger also was ejected in the fourth quarter for unsportsmanlike conduct.
CENTRAL 0 10 0 14 -- 24
DAVIDSON 0 0 0 0 -- 0
PC--Lewis 8 pass from Jensen-Clagg (Raymond kick)
PC--Raymond 22 FG
PC--Eakins 6 run (Raymond kick)
PC--Clopton 39 interception return (Raymond kick)