The Hilliard Bradley High School football team showed that it has enough talent to overcome a flat performance as the host Jaguars defeated Thomas Worthington 31-17 on Sept. 22.

Bradley improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division, while Thomas dropped to 3-2 and 0-2.

“We weren’t ready to play even though we warned (the players) how tough (Thomas is) this year,” Bradley coach Mike LoParo said. “I’m going to blame myself on that.”

Thomas led 17-14 at halftime, but had four turnovers in the second half when the Jaguars’ defense turned up the pressure on quarterback Charlie Rhoades.

“We had 42 snaps to their 25 in the first half and that was a good sign,” Thomas coach Matt Zingery said. “But the turnovers in the second half kept our defense on the field too long against an explosive offense. We’ve got to get better and value the ball.”

Bradley’s Grant Buehl burst up the middle 21 yards to cap a six-play, 80-yard drive midway through the third quarter as the Jaguars took their first lead at 21-17.

On the ensuing kickoff, Thomas’ Khalil Jones had a 77-yard return to the Bradley 2, where Tyler Welch made a touchdown-saving tackle. That proved pivotal, as the Cardinals were unable to score.

Bradley’s Chris Mayfield intercepted a fourth-down pass and returned it to midfield.

Mayfield’s second interception minutes later gave the Jaguars the ball at the Cardinals’ 29 and set up a 30-yard field goal by Jacob Castro that extended Bradley’s lead to 24-17.

“Our defense came to play in the second half and I thought Chris Mayfield really stepped up,” LoParo said. “We had a chance to put the game away, but fumbled at their 1 in the middle of the fourth quarter and had to sweat it out.”

The Jaguars put the game away when quarterback Josh Stewart, under heavy pressure, lofted a pass to Daevon Anderson on third-and-10 for a 49-yard touchdown with under 2 minutes remaining.

Stewart finished 15-for-28 passing for 283 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He connected with Anderson on a 72-yard touchdown in the first quarter and with Buehl on a 34-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Anderson had seven catches for 183 yards and Kory Taylor had five receptions for 56 yards. Buehl rushed for 59 yards on 12 carries and Jack Richards had 70 yards on eight carries.

For the Cardinals, Rhoades was 18-for-32 passing for 178 yards. Cameron Ryan had seven catches for 102 yards and Jones had five receptions for 62 yards. Dijahn Davis rushed for 59 yards on 15 carries and Jones added 44 yards on seven carries.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

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Team 1 2 3 4 Final THOMAS WORTHINGTON 10 7 0 0 17 HILLIARD BRADLEY
7 7 7 10 31

TW—Jones 7 pass from Rhoades (Graham kick)

HB—Anderson 72 pass from Stewart (Castro kick)

TW—Graham 25 FG

TW—Jones 15 pass from Rhoades (Graham kick)

HB—Buehl 34 pass from Stewart (Castro kick)

HB—Buehl 21 run (Castro kick)

HB—Castro 30 FG

HB—Anderson 49 pass from Stewart (Castro kick)