A stout defense and quick-scoring offense propelled the Pickerington High School North football team to a 38-6 victory over visiting Lancaster in an OCC-Ohio Division contest Sept. 27.
Quarterback Zeph Miller led the Panthers' offense, completing nine of 15 passes for 169 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for 108 yards on nine carries. North, which improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Ohio, amassed 418 total yards.
“(Miller) is the leader of our pack, and he’s surrounded by other good athletes that know how to catch the ball,” Panthers coach Tom Phillips said.
Lancaster, which dropped to 2-3 and 0-2, opened the scoring by capping an 11-play drive with a 2-yard run by quarterback Collin Young with 3:42 left in the first quarter and held a 6-0 lead after the first quarter.
“We started out a little rusty (on defense) against their wing-T (offense), but we went back to our goals at halftime and started making our reads,” Phillips said.
North scored 21 points in the second quarter, starting with a 9-yard run by running back Brett Howell 30 seconds into the quarter. The Panthers needed only 23 seconds on their next drive to move ahead 14-6, as Miller connected with receiver Chris McDowell on a 2-yard pass. The touchdown was set up by a 65-yard run by Miller, who reversed field on the play.
“It was a designed play to the right, but I saw an opening on the left and took it,” Miller said of the run. “My offensive line is giving me a lot of time, and the connection with my receivers is getting stronger.”
Miller capped the first-half scoring with a 50-yard touchdown pass to receiver Jay Williams.
“We came out strong, but to be honest, Pickerington North had three skill players we couldn’t tackle,” Lancaster coach Rob Carpenter said. “That was the difference, and we couldn’t control the ball offensively.”
The Panthers scored two touchdowns in the third quarter, with Miller connecting with receiver Quincy Storey for 10- and 50-yard scoring passes, and closed the scoring with a 41-yard field goal by Karch Holland in the fourth quarter.
All of North’s touchdown drives were under two minutes.
“Our goal is always to score fast, and we get stickers (for our helmets) when we can do that,” Miller said.
North's defense also earned some stickers, limiting Lancaster to 189 total yards.
“They kept running and doing the same thing, and we just kept trying to smack them in the mouth until they quit,” Panthers defensive lineman Geno Rollo said. “It’s (Pickerington) Central week now, and we’re looking to get the ‘W’ again.”
L -- Young 2 run (kick failed)
PN -- Howell 9 run (Holland kick)
PN -- McDowell 2 pass from Miller (Holland kick)
PN -- Williams 50 pass from Miller (Holland kick)
PN -- Storey 10 pass from Miller (Holland kick)
PN -- Storey 50 pass from Miller (Holland kick)
PN -- Holland 41 FG