As the rain came down harder in the fourth quarter, the sparse crowd of Grove City High School football fans was rewarded for sticking around.
The host Dawgs, who already had stopped Pickerington North three times in the red zone, upset the previously unbeaten Panthers 13-10 on Oct. 26 when Karch Holland missed a 39-yard field-goal attempt with 2 seconds remaining.
Holland had made the kick twice before, but Grove City called timeout on the first attempt and the second attempt was erased by a penalty.
North finished 6-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division and missed out on a perfect regular season. They will enter the Division I, Region 3 playoffs at 9-1 overall.
As a result of North's loss and Pickerington Central's 28-23 win over Gahanna, the Panthers must settle for sharing the OCC-Ohio championship with Central.
Grove City went 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the league.
"We knew people didn't think we had a chance, but this is the best feeling ever," senior linebacker Tyler Conner said. "We had some key plays when it mattered most."
No plays were bigger than a goal-line stand with about six minutes remaining when the Panthers got the ball at the Grove City 4-yard line after punter Chad Moore couldn’t handle the snap and kicked the ball while it was on the ground.
The officials called illegal kicking after North had recovered the ball in the end zone.
"The official came up to me and said flat out that he made a mistake," North coach Tom Phillips said. "We should've had a touchdown, but he said there was an inadvertent whistle when he kicked it off the ground. But we didn't get it and we've got to take this one on the chin and reload for (the playoffs)."
After a personal foul backed up the Panthers to the 20, Holland missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt.
Another North drive ended at the Dawgs’ 15 on fourth-and-2 early in the fourth quarter. Safety Peyton Bowyer intercepted quarterback Mason Olszewski's pass at the North 1 with 7:50 left in the third quarter.
"The kids were very resilient from some of the things that took place," Grove City coach Matt Jordan said. "We kept fighting all night and it's just a great win for our kids. It's been a frustrating year at times, but tonight we put it together and we were able to capitalize on some turnovers."
Grove City trailed 10-6 after Holland made a 33-yard field goal with 2:58 left in the second quarter.
Corey Williams' 76-yard run on the first drive of the second half set up his 1-yard touchdown run, which gave the Dawgs a 13-10 lead with 10:09 left in the third quarter.
Godwin Igwebuike finished with 175 yards rushing on 30 carries for North.
PN -- Olszewski 12 run (Holland kick)
GC -- Meece 18 run (pass failed)
PN -- Holland 33 FG
GC -- Williams 1 run (Nankivell kick)