A penalty helped the Westerville Central High School football team pull out a 21-17 win over host DeSales in the season opener Aug. 29.
Leading 17-14 in the fourth quarter, the Stallions forced Central to go three-and-out, but were called for a roughing-the-punter penalty. The 15-yard penalty enabled the Warhawks to maintain possession and, three plays later, running back Benny Snell caught a short pass from quarterback Nate Jackowski and converted it into a 69-yard touchdown.
The touchdown, which came with 8 minutes, 37 seconds left, proved to be the game-deciding score.
The Warhawks were led by Jackowski, who made his first varsity start at quarterback, replacing 2014 graduate Jared Drake, who made first-team all-state in Division I last year. Jackowski was 15-for-22 passing for 234 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 65 yards and a touchdown.
“Practice makes perfect, and we’ve practiced situations like that many times,” Jackowski said of his touchdown pass to Snell. “I knew (Snell) was going to be there when I was under pressure, and he came up big.”
Central coach John Magistro said he wanted to “see what we could do on the perimeter,” as the Warhawks threw a dozen screen passes to wide receivers.
“We thought we had some good matchups and we like to get our athletes in space,” Magistro said. “They made it tough on us tonight, but our kids fought hard.”
DeSales looked to control the game with its run-oriented, triple-option offense, and the Stallions did just that, finishing with 273 yards rushing, and almost doubling the Warhawks in time of possession.
However, Stallions coach Ryan Wiggins said his team was too aggressive late in the game.
“We got the stop, but they got too excited when that snap went into the end zone,” Wiggins said of the roughing-the-punter penalty. “There’s a lot of football left, and there’s a lot to learn from a game like this.”
WC—Jackowski 32 run (Barnhart kick)
D—DeLozier 8 run (Acquista kick)
D—Andrews 10 run (Acquista kick)
WC—Holmes 37 pass from Jackowski (Barnhart kick)
D— Acquista 23 FG
WC—Snell 69 pass from Jackowski (Barnhart kick)