The disappointment from a five-point loss last season to Olentangy Liberty still seemed fresh to Pickerington High School North senior Tyler Potts as he and his teammates prepared for the rematch Sept. 22 in the non-league finale for both teams.
The Panthers’ defense played like it was on a mission throughout as it came away with four interceptions — including two that were returned for touchdowns — during a 42-0 victory.
North improved to 4-1, while host Liberty fell to 3-2.
“I really think we came out and we knew this game was circled on our calendar from last year’s loss,” Potts said. “To win this game, we knew our (defensive backs) were going to have to have a big game, and our (defensive line) played well.”
North showed early on that it would control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
The Panthers finished with 377 yards of offense, with Ty Wiley finishing with five catches for 146 yards and one touchdown to became the program’s all-time leader in career receiving yards.
Defensively, North limited Liberty to minus-1 yard in the first half and 45 overall.
“Our kids are just playing with an attitude,” coach Nate Hillerich said. “They’re relentless.”
The Panthers took a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes, 10 seconds left in the first quarter on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Weirick to Jaylon Baylor. The score was set up by a 55-yard pass to Wiley two plays earlier.
North made it 14-0 with 1:57 to go in the first period on a 5-yard run by Nonso Uba, then increased the advantage to 21-0 two plays later on a 48-yard interception return for a score by Potts.
Larry Martin scored on a 2-yard run with 4:43 left in the third quarter, and 47 seconds later, Tyrik Carter intercepted his second pass of the game and returned it 41 yards for a score to make it 35-0.
Weirick was intercepted three times but finished 15-for-29 passing for 253 yards and rushed for 38 yards on seven carries.
Chris Scott added 53 yards receiving for the Panthers.
North held Liberty to 35 yards passing.
“They’re just better than we are right now,” Liberty coach Steve Hale said.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final PICKERINGTON NORTH 21 0 14 7 42 OLENTANGY LIBERTY
0 0 0 0 0
PN—Baylor 4 pass from Weirick (Shalawylo kick)
PN—Uba 5 run (Shalawylo kick)
PN—Potts 48 interception return (Shalawylo kick)
PN—Martin 2 run (Shalawylo kick)
PN—Carter 41 interception return (Shalawylo kick)
PN—Wiley 52 pass from Weirick (Shalawylo kick)