Senior quarterback Chase Longwell of the Hilliard Darby High School football team rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries and threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to lead the Panthers to a 31-10 victory over visiting Westerville South in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs Nov. 3.
The top-seeded Panthers improved to 11-0 overall and will play fifth-seeded Pickerington North in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at a site to be determined. The eighth-seeded Wildcats, who also lost to Darby 28-14 on Oct. 5, finished at 8-3.
“I’m very proud of our defense to hold them to (10) points because Westerville South has a very potent offense and a lot of explosive athletes,” Darby coach John Santagata said. “We couldn’t completely shut them down but our defense rallied to the ball well and made some big plays.”
In the second half, South threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and turned the ball over on downs once.
“We just made too many mistakes to beat a team like Hilliard Darby,” South coach Rocky Pentello said. “They are really solid at what they do and they don’t make mistakes.”
Darby opened the game with a 10-play, 38-yard drive ending in a 40-yard field goal by Kyle Kaplan.
South answered with a 15-play, 61-yard drive, but on a fourth-and-1 from Darby’s 29-yard line, a 7-yard pass from Nick Renzetti to Torrodd Carter was wiped out by an illegal formation penalty. On fourth-and-6, Renzetti threw an incompletion to turn the ball over on downs.
Five plays later, Caleb Day scored on a 15-yard run to give Darby a 10-0 lead with 10 minutes, 54 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
“My offensive line did a good job and I got a good block from Michael Porter on that play,” Day said.
South got on the scoreboard when Alex Linzell kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to cut Darby’s lead to 10-3.
South took the opening possession of the second half and drove 62 yards on eight plays ending with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Renzetti to Jalen Bell to tie the game at 10.
At the end of South’s next possession midway through the third quarter and the game still tied, the Wildcats lined up to punt on fourth-and-13. The ball was snapped to South’s up-man, Bell, who threw an incomplete pass intended for Myles Collier. On the next play, Longwell threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Devon Rogers and Darby led 17-10.
“They have gone for fake punts numerous times this year, so we anticipated they would try it at some point,” Santagata said. “We hadn’t seen them try it out of that particular formation, but our guys did a good job of stopping them and giving us the momentum.”
On Darby’s next possession, Longwell scored on a 79-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers ahead 24-10 with 2:11 left in the third quarter. Hayden VanKirk, who rushed for 65 yards on 18 carries, added a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
For South, Renzetti finished 17-for-35 passing for 183 yards and a touchdown, and Noah Prentiss rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries.
HD—Kaplan 40 FG
HD—Day 15 run (Kaplan kick)
WS—Linzell 32 FG
WS—Bell 4 pass from Renzetti (Linzell kick)
HD—Rogers 30 pass from Longwell (Kaplan kick)
HD—Longwell 79 run (Kaplan kick)
HD—VanKirk 2 run (Kaplan kick)