Told his team had outgained Westerville North 129 to negative-7 yards in a pivotal third-quarter surge Sept. 14, Canal Winchester High School football coach Josh Stratton wasn’t immediately impressed, although he exhorted his already excited team by sharing that statistic in a postgame speech moments later.

Stratton was far happier that the Indians finally pulled away for a convincing victory, defeating the visiting Warriors 38-15 for their third consecutive win.

“This game was about our culture taking another step,” said Stratton, whose Indians are hoping for their second consecutive Division II, Region 7 playoff berth. “We haven’t been able to put anybody away in two years. We’ve given up some leads. But tonight, we realized if we just keep playing hard, keep things simple, get lined up right on defense and protect the ball, good things will happen.”

Freshman running back Stephan Byrd rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Darren Davis added two touchdowns and 33 yards on five carries at running back while helping spearhead a defense that kept North from getting comfortable until late in the game.

“We didn’t play to the scoreboard,” Davis said. “Our core values are fight and passion. We fight to the end. Coach says if we’re not having fun, why are we playing?”

Touchdown runs from Davis (1 yard) and Byrd (2 yards) in the third quarter helped expand a 14-3 halftime lead to 31-3.

North reached the end zone for the first time on the ensuing kickoff, which was returned 99 yards by Jehi Glass. The Warriors did not have a first down in the second half until there were five minutes left, and Rondale Smith added a 5-yard score with 1:42 to play.

Smith finished with 108 yards on 25 carries.

“They have a very physical defense. (Davis) was lights out,” North coach Bryan Johnson said. “It was hard for us to run and hard for us to get out of the pocket and throw to our receivers.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

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Team 1 2 3 4 Final WESTERVILLE NORTH 0 3 6 6 15 CANAL WINCHESTER
7 7 17 7 38

CW—Beeler 4 run (Musick kick)

WN—Dixon 23 FG

CW—Byrd 2 run (Musick kick)

CW—Da. Davis 1 run (Musick kick)

CW—Musick 27 FG

CW—Byrd 2 run (Musick kick)

WN—Glass 99 kickoff return (kick failed)

CW—Da. Davis 20 run (Musick kick)

WN—Smith 5 run (kick failed)