After splitting its last four games, the Pickerington High School North football team finds itself in a battle for a playoff berth in Division I, Region 3.

After splitting its last four games, the Pickerington High School North football team finds itself in a battle for a playoff berth in Division I, Region 3.

The Panthers led host Pickerington Central by a touchdown at halftime but allowed 17 consecutive points and ended up on the losing end of a 17-14 decision on Oct. 14.

The loss dropped North to 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division and leaves the Panthers with a series of questions to answer with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

Although the Panthers outgained Central 305-220 in total yards, quarterback Jimmy Weirick sat out parts of two series with an injury to his right, throwing hand before returning and finishing the game. It's unclear how the injury will affect him going forward.

In addition, North will play at home Friday, Oct. 21, against a Lancaster team that could be better than its record indicates.

The Golden Gales are 4-4 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Ohio and are coming off a 21-18 victory over Gahanna on Oct. 14. Their four losses have come against teams that are a combined 28-4, including a 27-7 loss to Central on Oct. 7.

"We have to have a good week in practice, look at the mistakes we made and just focus week by week," Panthers running back A'sonte Clay said.

North is projected to be eighth in the Region 3 computer ratings this week and Lancaster is projected to be 11th. The top eight teams make the playoffs. Thirteen of the 18 teams in the region are projected to be mathematically alive for a playoff berth.

Lancaster traditionally has been a power running team under coach Rob Carpenter. Against Gahanna, quarterback Noah Dryden attempted just five passes, completing three for 70 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 114 yards and one score.

Shea Goss is the top running back for the Gales. He ran for 80 yards and a score against the Lions and has rushed for 615 yards and nine touchdowns on the season.

North limited Central to 131 yards rushing but allowed the Tigers to drive 93 yards on 16 plays to begin the second half and tie the game at 7.

Clay had 60 yards rushing and Noah Owens added 52 yards and a touchdown on the ground for the Panthers, while Jaylon Baylor had 130 yards on three receptions and Ty Wiley had three catches for 33 yards and a score.

Defensively against Central, Larry Martin had 4.5 tackles for loss, Nick Giardina had 10 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss and Ben Johnson added five tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack.

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