MANSFIELD — The Westerville Central High School football team’s magical season came to an end Nov. 16 at Arlin Field in Mansfield.
Austintown Fitch took advantage of six turnovers by Central as it rallied to defeat the Warhawks 40-24 in a Division I, Region 1 second-round game.
The fourth-seeded Falcons improved to 12-0 and will play top-seeded Lakewood in a regional semifinal Nov. 23, while fifth-seeded Central finished 10-2.
“I thought we played hard,” Central coach John Magistro said. “It wasn’t like we quit. They’re a good football team. We had a few turnovers tonight that we don’t usually have. We had to play on a short field a lot of times defensively. They took advantage, so give them the credit.”
The Warhawks opened a 24-14 late in the first half before the Falcons took control, scoring 26 unanswered points.
A turning point came late in the second quarter when Central had possession looking for another score, but a turnover ignited the Falcons’ comeback.
Defensive back Rodney Smith hit Warhawks quarterback Jared Drake, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Sam Ortz at the Central 21-yard line. Quarterback Antwan Harris scored four plays later to pull his team within 24-20 at the half.
After gaining 277 yards in the first half, the Warhawks were held to 63 after the break as Austintown Fitch dominated the time of possession in the second half.
The Falcons were led by Harris and running back Darrin Hall, who each had touchdown runs, and kicker Nick Sheely, who had field goals of 38 and 26 yards.
Harris rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries and Hall added 121 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries for the Falcons, who turned the ball over only once.
Austintown Fitch defensive back Kerrell Johnson had two interceptions in the second half to end Central drives.
Drake completed 12 of 26 passes for 240 yards with two touchdowns and a season-high four interceptions. He connected with Cedric Frierson (80 yards) and Micah Lowe (6) for first-half scores.
“They’re definitely a hard-nosed football team and they played fast,” Drake said. “I give all the credit in the world to them. They were down and they fought back.”
AF – Harris 1 run (Sheely kick)
WC – Frierson 80 pass from Drake (Robertson kick)
WC – Robertson 23 FG
AF – Harrington 70 pass from Harris (Sheely kick)
WC – Head 11 run (Robertson kick)
WC – Lowe 6 pass from Drake (Robertson kick)
AF – Harris 1 run (kick failed)
AF – Hall 17 run (Sheely kick)
AF – Harris 5 run (Sheely kick)
AF – Sheely 38 FG
AF – Sheely 26 FG