The versatility of senior quarterback Jimmy Weirick burned another of the Pickerington High School North football team’s opponents Oct. 26.
In a game featuring two of central Ohio’s more explosive offenses, Weirick connected with senior wide receiver Ty Wiley for three touchdowns to lead the host Panthers past Gahanna 35-16.
Weirick also is the Panthers’ leading rusher and had 74 yards on the ground, but his connection with Wiley proved to be among the deciding factors as Wiley had seven catches for 187 yards.
“I thought they were going to double-team me more, but me and Jimmy took advantage of it,” Wiley said. “Offensively, we had to make plays and our scheme worked really well.”
North improved to 8-2 overall and finished 4-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division, while the Lions ended the regular season 6-4 overall and 2-3 in the league.
While the Panthers have locked up a playoff berth in Division I, Region 3, Gahanna was fifth in Division I, Region 2 entering the game and still holds realistic hopes of making the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.
Against North, however, the Lions were limited to one touchdown and three field goals.
“They’re a big-play offense and you’ve got to decide whether to try to let Jimmy run or whether to let him throw it,” Gahanna coach Bruce Ward said.
North limited Lions quarterback Mike Lowery to 6-for-23 passing for 104 yards and held running back Justus Harris to 54 yards on 17 carries.
Gahanna took a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Harris with 9 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first quarter, but Weirick hit Wiley for a 38-yard score with 6:34 to go in the quarter.
After field goals of 30 and 31 yards by Kobie Stillwell gave the Lions a 13-7 lead, Weirick found Wiley for a 24-yard touchdown with 27 seconds to go before halftime.
Weirick hit Chris Scott for a 55-yard touchdown with 9:24 remaining in the third quarter and Wiley for a 27-yard score with 13 seconds left in the quarter.
Lowery threw two interceptions, including one that Tyler Potts returned 22 yards for a touchdown with 5:21 remaining.
The Panthers put themselves in position to earn a home first-round playoff game if the right scenarios occur on the final weekend of the regular season.
“Offensively, our kids are stepping up, and our defense was huge,” North coach Nate Hillerich said.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final GAHANNA 10 3 3 0 16 PICKERINGTON NORTH
7 7 14 7 35
G—Harris 1 run (Stillwell kick)
PN—Wiley 38 pass from Weirick (Shalawylo kick)
G—Stillwell 30 FG
G—Stillwell 31 FG
PN—Wiley 24 pass from Weirick (Shalawylo kick)
PN—Scott 55 pass from Weirick (Shalawylo kick)
G—Stillwell 22 FG
PN—Wiley 27 pass from Weirick (Shalawylo kick)
PN—Potts 22 interception return (Shalawylo kick)