The matchup of defending state champions between the Pickerington High School Central football team and host Trotwood-Madison on Sept. 7 included the expected high-caliber speed and college-level athleticism, and even a few miscues, on both sides.

But the Tigers won the battle of big plays and put together a strong drive midway through the second half to make up for three first-half turnovers on their way to beating the Rams 42-19.

The victory moved Central to 3-0 and avenged its only loss from last season when it won the Division I state title, while last year’s Division III champions dropped to 1-2.

“We’re very fortunate to win the game and pull away at the end,” coach Jay Sharrett said.

Central led 14-7 at halftime but Trotwood-Madison drove 71 yards on its opening drive of the third quarter, with Keon’tae Hughley scoring on a 1-yard quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal. The Rams missed the extra point.

The Tigers’ Terry Simuel returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-13.

On the Rams’ next drive, they drove to the Central 25, but on second-and-10, Hughley was intercepted by Jaquwon Crawford and he returned it 85 yards for a touchdown for a 28-13 lead.

Trotwood-Madison cut it to 28-19 with 4:58 left in the third quarter on a 20-yard pass from Hughley to Justin Stephens, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound senior tight end who has scholarship offers from several Football Bowl Subdivision programs.

Central then put together a five-minute drive that was capped by a 6-yard touchdown run by Demeatric Crenshaw on fourth-and-2 on the first play of the fourth quarter.

“We just came together as a team and capitalized as a team,” Simuel said. “We definitely bounced back from the mistakes we had and what we needed to do to make us win.”

The Tigers marched 52 yards on 10 plays to score on their opening possession as Jamir Jackson ran in from 2 yards with 8:43 to go in the opening quarter.

Crenshaw was intercepted on Central’s next possession, but Dom Marasco picked off Rams quarterback Kenyon Snead and returned it to the Trotwood-Madison 1. On the next play, Jackson ran for a touchdown to make it 14-0.

Central committed two additional turnovers in the first half, including a fumble that set up the Rams’ first touchdown.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

==========

Team 1 2 3 4 Final PICKERINGTON CENTRAL 14 0 14 14 42 TROTWOOD-MADISON
0 7 12 0 19

PC—Jackson 2 run (Bookman kick)

PC—Jackson 1 run (Bookman kick)

TM—Winchester 8 pass from Hughley (Mims kick)

TM—Hughley 1 run (kick failed)

PC—Simuel 82 kickoff return (Bookman kick)

PC—Crawford 85 interception return (Bookman kick)

TM—Stephens 20 pass from Hughley (pass failed)

PC—Crenshaw 6 run (Bookman kick)

PC—Crenshaw 4 run (Bookman kick)