Last year’s Division III state runner-up, Trotwood-Madison, looked like a high school football team that’s ready to go deep into the playoffs again this season as it took down host Pickerington Central in the battle of two unbeaten teams.

The Rams scored 20 unanswered points on their way to a 28-19 victory Sept. 8 to improve to 3-0.

Trotwood-Madison quarterback Markell Stephens-Peppers completed 15 of 23 passes for 184 yards and four touchdowns, and running back Raveion Hargrove found a lot of open room on the outside in gaining 154 yards on 16 carries.

“We know this is a tough place to play … We face teams like this later on in the playoffs,” Rams coach Jeff Graham said. “Our kids understand that we love having signature wins. They just went out here and played their hearts out.”

Trotwood-Madison took a 14-13 lead into halftime after Stephens-Peppers connected with William McDaniel for a 39-yard touchdown pass. Stephens-Peppers added touchdown throws of 35, 8 and 10 yards in helping the Rams pull ahead 28-13 with 4 minutes, 20 seconds left.

“We noticed our quick guys would be a challenge for their big guys, especially in the grass as the field got wet,” Graham said.

The Rams managed to harass Central quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw, who completed just three of seven passes in the second half. His 42-yard touchdown pass to Tristan Peppers put the Tigers ahead 13-8 — their final lead — with 3:37 left in the second quarter.

“I think it was a matchup of two great football programs,” said Central coach Jay Sharrett, whose team was a Division I state semifinalist last season. “Of course, we want to be 3-0. But you look back at it, we’re very fortunate to be 2-1 because we played two other ballgames that came right down to the fourth quarter.”

Crenshaw, who completed 11 of 22 passes for 142 yards, connected with Trenton Gillison on a 6-yard touchdown pass with 1:18 left.

Peppers finished with five catches for 95 yards.

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Team 1 2 3 4 Final TROTWOOD-MADISON 8 6 8 6 28 PICKERINGTON CENTRAL
6 7 0 6 19

PC–Jackson 1 run (pass failed)

TM–Hargrove 35 pass from Stephens-Peppers (Daniels pass from Stephens-Peppers)

PC–Peppers 42 pass from Crenshaw (Cubra kick)

TM–McDaniel 39 pass from Stephens-Peppers (pass failed)

TM–Daniels 8 pass from Stephens-Peppers (Daniels pass from Stephens-Peppers)

TM–Daniels 10 pass from Stephens-Peppers (pass failed)

PC–Gillison 6 pass from Crenshaw (pass failed)