Quarterback Jared Drake completed 21 of 26 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Westerville Central High School football team to a 35-21 victory over visiting Hilliard Darby in an OCC-Cardinal Division game Oct. 25.
The Warhawks improved to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in the OCC-Cardinal to clinch a share of the league title, while Darby dropped to 7-2 and 5-1.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, but when you see the excitement the other coaches, players and fans get out of our team winning an OCC championship, you realize how special it is,” coach John Magistro said. “Hilliard Darby is a good team, so this was a big win for us.
“Jared does something spectacular for us every week, and this performance was up there with the best he’s had this season.”
Central outgained Darby 341-114 in total offense while taking a 28-7 halftime lead.
The Warhawks jumped out to 15-0 lead just 1 minute, 26 seconds into the game. Drake opened the scoring with a 37-yard run and Cedric Frierson's conversion run made the score 8-0. Defensive back Zach Crumpler recovered an onside kick, and three plays later Drake threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Alex Fisher.
“We wanted to get the ball first, score, go for two and then try an onside kick, and everything worked out perfectly for us,” Magistro said.
Drake also threw touchdown passes of 22 and 15 yards to wide receiver Tommy Mansfield in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, Darby defensive back Dwayne Oates returned an interception 36 yards to the Warhawks’ 25. Two plays later, quarterback Nate Green threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Zack Donatelli to cut the deficit to 28-14.
On Darby’s next possession, Green broke loose for a 15-yard touchdown run to pull the Panthers within 28-21 with 2:50 left in the third. Green rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries and also completed eight of 13 passes for 82 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
“We had a tough start, but our team never quit fighting,” Darby coach John Santagata said. “Our defense played very well in the second half and made some plays to get our offense going.
“But they are very athletic in all three phases of the game, and their quarterback fits their style of offense very well, and he was difficult to contain for four quarters.”
In the fourth quarter, Central put together a 12-play, 72-yard touchdown drive, which consumed 5:06 and was capped by an 8-yard run by Drake with 2:48 remaining.
“That touchdown run at the end of the game was huge to put the game out of reach, and our defense came up big for us, too,” Drake said. “I’m proud of our line and receivers because they did a great job of making plays and helping us win an important game.”
On Darby’s following possession, Frierson intercepted a pass at Central’s 41 with 1:45 left to seal the victory.
WC—Drake 37 run (Frierson run)
WC—Fisher 46 pass from Drake (Robertson kick)
HD—Green 2 run (Kasprzak kick)
WC—Mansfield 22 pass from Drake (Robertson kick)
WC—Mansfield 15 pass from Drake (pass failed)
HD—Donatelli 24 pass from Green (Kasprzak kick)
HD—Green 15 run (Kasprzak kick)
WC—Drake 8 run (Robertson kick)