The Westerville North High School football team beat visiting Franklin Heights 48-21 on Aug. 30 to snap a 45-game losing streak.
After the game, hundreds of students mobbed the field and jumped up and down with North’s players. Students, parents, players and coaches embraced afterwards, with many shedding tears.
“This is really emotional for all of us, especially the seniors, because we’ve wanted this for so long,” North junior quarterback Jake Downs said. “The streak is over and this is a rebirth for our program.”
North senior Andy Struttmann had a big game at both running back and linebacker while helping the Warriors build a 35-7 halftime lead.
Struttmann rushed for 46 yards and two touchdowns on six carries before the break, including an 18-yard touchdown run that put North ahead 14-0 midway through the first quarter and a 12-yard scoring run to put the Warriors up 21-7 with 8 minutes, 24 seconds left in the second quarter.
After defensive back Brandon Fenton stripped the ball from Franklin Heights quarterback Ray Spangler, Struttmann scooped it up and returned it 45 yards for another score as the first half ended.
“We knew we needed a good start because of the mentality of past North teams, and once we got the lead we were able to put the gas pedal to the floor,” Struttmann said. “I’m tired of playing in other people’s shadows. I know I’m one of the best players in central Ohio and I want everyone else to know it, too.”
North’s defense held the Falcons to 119 yards in the first half, including 67 rushing yards on 22 carries.
Struttman scored on a 6-yard run late in the third quarter on his only carry of the second half to make it 41-13, as the Warriors posted their first win since defeating Westerville Central 21-17 on Sept. 9, 2008.
Downs was 6-for-12 passing for 81 yards, and running back Damani Johnson added 62 yards and a touchdown on three carries.
Mitch Kittinger rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries for Franklin Heights.
“We didn’t own that streak. Nobody did really, but we wanted it removed from our team, and the kids got the job done,” North coach Rodger Elander said. “That was a crazy celebration after the game. Nobody knew what to do because it had been so long since we last won here.”
WN -- Hinz 6 run (Horne kick)
WN -- Struttmann 18 run (Horne kick)
FH -- German 2 run (Puccetti kick)
WN -- Struttman 12 run (Horne kick)
WN -- Downs 7 run (Horne kick)
WN -- Struttman 45 fumble return (Horne kick)
FH -- Earle 8 run (kick blocked)
WN -- Struttmann 6 run (kick blocked)
FH -- Kittinger 80 run (Dawkins pass from Spangler)
WN -- Johnson 31 run (Horne kick)