While the Westerville South High School football team’s defense set the tone Sept. 15 at Upper Arlington, the other side of the ball did its best to flip the script on the old adage that the best offense is a good defense.
Michael Mansaray’s fumble recovery in the end zone with 1 minute, 56 seconds left in the first quarter opened the scoring, Jaelen Gill rushed for 96 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries and the Wildcats played keep-away for much of the game in posting a 26-0 shutout that left both teams with 2-2 records.
Defensive end Antonio Smith was unblocked as he ran to UA quarterback Sammy Sass, planting him into the end zone as the ball popped free.
“It was a great opportunity to at least get a safety,” Smith said. “At first, I thought (Sass) was going to let the ball go, but he held it for a little while and I just went after the ball. I knew somebody else would be there to scoop it up.”
It was Mansaray’s third touchdown of the year, but more importantly to South, it was a tone-setter.
“ ‘Tone’ laid the wood on him and I just realized, ‘Hey, the ball’s right here,’ ” Mansaray said. “We had good preparation this week. We knew exactly who we had to watch. We had good preparation overall.”
South held the ball for the final 6:31 of the first half, then opened the second half with a 14-play, 63-yard drive that took 7:04 and was capped by a 5-yard touchdown run from Gill. That sparked the Wildcats, who outgained the Golden Bears 73-67 in the first half and 277-179 for the game.
Gill tore through UA’s defense on the Wildcats’ next possession, running for 20 yards on first down and 55 yards on the next play for a touchdown and a 20-0 lead.
He added an 11-yard touchdown run with 8:27 left.
Sass completed nine of 14 passes for 100 yards, and Eli D’Herete rushed for 35 yards on eight carries to lead UA. Will Robbins caught five passes for 44 yards.
“They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect,” UA coach Joel Cutler said. “They have outstanding playmakers at certain positions on both sides of the ball. We just have to fix us.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final WESTERVILLE SOUTH 7 0 13 6 26 UPPER ARLINGTON
0 0 0 0 0
WS—Mansaray fumble recovery in end zone (Svoboda kick)
WS—Gill 5 run (Svoboda kick)
WS—Gill 55 run (pass failed)
WS—Gill 11 run (kick blocked)