Points were difficult to come by for both the Pickerington Central and Gahanna Lincoln high school football teams in their Week 5 wins.
Keeping the Tigers in check again offensively will be among the tasks for the Lions as they look to snap a 15-game losing streak against their OCC-Ohio Division rival in the league opener for both teams.
Central, which beat Gahanna 45-8 last season, plays host to the Lions on Thursday, Sept. 27, in a game that will be televised on the CW Columbus.
"We're the underdogs coming into the game, and I know the only people who are going to believe (we can win) is us, our team and people at our school," Lions senior defensive back LaCarr Trent said. "We can't listen to any outside distractions. It's up to us to get the job done. Anything can happen."
Central got a game-tying 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw to Jaquwon Crawford with 1 minute, 29 seconds left and then got a game-winning 21-yard field goal from Drew Bookman in overtime of its 17-14 victory over previously unbeaten Hilliard Davidson on Sept. 21.
Central, which was ranked third in last week's Division I state poll, is 5-0, while Gahanna is 3-2 and has won three games in a row.
"I just knew we needed a big play," Crawford said of his touchdown against the Wildcats. "I feel good about opening league play with Gahanna. They're a solid team (and we need to) limit our mistakes and play our game."
Central was limited to 222 total yards by Davidson, with Jamir Jackson rushing 14 times for 52 yards and Crenshaw rushing for 23 yards and completing six of 11 passes for 122 yards.
Lorenzo Styles Jr. added three receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown.
The Tigers' Terry Simuel recovered a fumble on Davidson's first play of overtime to set up the winning field goal.
Gahanna got a big play on defense to put it in position to beat Westerville Central 14-13 on Sept. 21.
Trent returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown with eight minutes remaining in the third quarter to get Gahanna to within 13-7. The Lions' winning touchdown was a 1-yard run by Travis Whittaker with 4:52 left in the third quarter and came one play after quarterback Will Thomas hit Justus Harris for a 58-yard reception.
"We had a lot of confidence that we could come into the game and execute," Trent said. "For the most part, we just kept fighting. We were beating ourselves (in the first half), so that's what the message was at halftime."
Harris rushed for 119 yards on 19 carries and had 76 yards on four receptions to lead the Lions' offense.
Defensively for Gahanna, senior linebacker Zadji Hoxha returned after getting hurt in the second half of a 41-40 double-overtime win over New Albany on Sept. 14 and had seven tackles, including two for loss.
"Our defense is the heart of the team," Trent said. "I'd compare our defense to any defense in central Ohio."