SPRINGFIELD — The Pickerington High School Central football team pulled away in the second half to defeat Cincinnati Colerain 41-28 in a Division I state semifinal Nov. 24 at Evans Stadium and advance to a state final for the first time since 2011.

Central improved to 13-1 and will face Mentor (13-1) in the state championship game at 8 p.m. Dec. 1 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. Mentor defeated Olentangy Liberty 27-21 in the other state semifinal Nov. 24 at Arlin Stadium in Mansfield.

Colerain finished 11-3.

The Tigers, who lost to eventual champion Cincinnati St. Xavier 29-27 in a state semifinal last season, are seeking their first state championship. They were state runners-up in 2006 (Division II) and 2011 (Division I).

“When you have a bunch of players who are high-level players and they surrender themselves to the team, they don’t care about stats, they don’t care about anything like that. All they care about is the scoreboard,” coach Jay Sharrett said. “We don’t care as long as we score one more point than the other team and we know we are advancing.”

Central took advantage of five second-half turnovers by Colerain and took control in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw led the Tigers, rushing for 117 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries.

“It was the safe way to do it, me just following behind my offensive line and taking me to the promise land,” Crenshaw said of his team’s ground game.

Xavier Henderson added 66 yards on 12 carries and had a key interception in the fourth quarter, which set up Crenshaw’s fourth touchdown of the game and gave the Tigers a 41-28 lead.

With Central trailing 21-20 early in the fourth quarter, Grey Brancifort gave the Tigers the lead for good with a 7-yard touchdown run with 9 minutes, 57 seconds remaining.

J.J. Davis led Colerain, rushing for 244 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries.

Central played without running back Jamir Jackson, who missed the game after breaking a team rule.

fdirenna@thisweeeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

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Team 1 2 3 4 Final PICKERINGTON CENTRAL 3 3 14 21 41 CINCINNATI COLERAIN
0 7 14 7 28

PC—Cubra 31 FG

PC—Cubra 27 FG

CC—Davis 70 run (Mangold kick)

PC—Crenshaw 45 run (Cubra kick)

CC—Davis 52 run (Mangold kick)

PC—Crenshaw 13 run (Cubra kick)

CC—Davis 68 run (Mangold kick)

PC—Brancifort 7 run (Cubra kick)

PC—Crenshaw 1 run (Cubra kick)

CC—Jones 54 pass from Leyendecker (Mangold kick)

PC—Crenshaw 3 run (Cubra kick)