Quarterback Chase Longwell rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries to lead the Hilliard Darby High School football team to a 28-14 victory over host Westerville South in an OCC-Cardinal Division game on Oct. 5.
The Panthers improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Cardinal, while South dropped to 5-2 and 2-2. The loss was the second in a row for the Wildcats, who were beaten 42-35 by Dublin Scioto on Sept. 28.
“I’m really proud of our kids’ effort because Westerville South is a very good football team,” Darby coach John Santagata said. “They have some quick, explosive athletes, and I don’t know that we stopped them, but I would say we were able to contain them. Our defense did a great job of rallying to the football every time they had the ball.”
South coach Rocky Pentello was disappointed after watching his offense turn the ball over twice on downs inside Darby’s 20-yard line and turn the ball over on an interception inside the Panthers’ 30.
South quarterback Nick Renzetti completed 26 of 42 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns but was intercepted twice.
“We played hard but we had too many mistakes,” Pentello said. “You can’t come away with nothing that many times after you’ve reached the red zone and beat a good team like Hilliard Darby.”
Darby put together a 15-play, 87-yard drive that consumed 6 minutes, 29 seconds and was capped by a 23-yard touchdown run by Michael Porter to take a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
South answered with a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass from Renzetti to Torrodd Carter early in the second quarter.
Three plays later, Longwell scored on a 62-yard run to give the Panthers a 14-7 lead. And then on the Wildcats' next possession, Caleb Day intercepted Renzetti and returned the ball 45 yards for a touchdown to give Darby a 21-7 lead.
The Panthers took that lead into halftime.
“That pick-six was huge,” Pentello said. “Hilliard Darby played solid and waited for us to break down, and that’s what teams are doing against us this year.”
South put together an 11-play, 90-yard touchdown drive to cut its deficit to 21-14 with 38 seconds left in the third quarter. The drive culminated in a 4-yard pass from Renzetti to Jalen Bell.
The Wildcats drove inside Darby’s red zone again on their next possession but were stopped on fourth-and-3 at the Panthers' 8 with 5:30 remaining.
On its ensuing possession, Darby tried to draw South’s defense offside on fourth-and-1 from its own 17-yard line. When the Wildcats didn’t take the bait, the Panthers called a timeout and then decided to go for the first down, which Longwell gained on a 3-yard run.
Three plays later, Longwell broke loose on a 58-yard run to the South 11, setting up his own 4-yard touchdown run with 34 seconds remaining.
“I was contemplating going for it on fourth down and I just felt like it was the right thing to do because we had been running the football hard all night,” Santagata said.
HD--Porter 23 run (Kaplan kick)
WS--Carter 14 pass from Renzetti (Linzell kick)
HD--Longwell 62 run (Kaplan kick)
HD--Day 45 interception return (Kaplan kick)
WS--Bell 4 pass from Renzetti (Linzell kick)
HD--Longwell 4 run (Kaplan kick)