Anyone thinking the next big game for the Pickerington High School Central football team would be next week against Pickerington North had to do an about-face after the first possession of its Oct. 6 game.

That’s when visiting Lancaster, behind offensive linemen weighing 325, 280, 260, 245 and 225 pounds, converted four third downs and a fourth down on a 70-yard drive for a touchdown in 20 punishing plays.

In a physical game that appropriately was waged in “The Ditch,” the Tigers squeezed out a 14-13 victory thanks to a 24-yard touchdown catch by Jamir Jackson and a missed extra point by the Golden Gales after a touchdown with 8 minutes, 27 seconds left before a near full house on homecoming.

“That’s a strong, well-coached team over there,” Central coach Jay Sharrett said. “They used the field to their advantage, they used the clock to their advantage and they used ball control to their advantage. What I’m proud of is we had the ball only twice in the first half and we scored. This is a game where if you get gashed by one or more scores, that’s probably the ballgame.”

Lancaster (4-3 overall, 1-1 in OCC-Ohio Division) scored in the first quarter on fourth-and-goal on a 1-yard run by 220-pound tailback Shea Goss to end a drive that lasted 10:19.

The Tigers (6-1, 2-0) answered in the second quarter with a 10-play, 65-yard drive capped by a 2-yard pass from Demeatric Crenshaw to Trenton Gillison on fourth-and-goal.

Central scored the winning touchdown on an old favorite in the playbook when Crenshaw, a sophomore, rolled left, turned and threw to Jackson in the right flat. He scored untouched for a 14-7 lead with 3:38 left in the third quarter.

“That was a designed play that we ran, and we run that play a lot,” Crenshaw said. “When we’re in trouble, we go to that play.”

Crenshaw ran for 99 yards on 10 carries and completed five of 11 passes for 73 yards.

“We had to keep pounding, keep pounding,” he said. “That game went back and forth. (The OCC-Ohio) is the best — the best.”

Lancaster scored its second touchdown on a 3-yard run by Goss on fourth-and-goal. His 64-yard run to the 20 put life into the drive.

The extra-point attempt by Payton Stewart, though, was wide left.

The Gales had a final chance to win when they recovered a fumble at their 29 with 2:12 left, but the Tigers’ Terry Simuel intercepted on the next play.

“I was waiting for the quarterback to leak out and throw the ball, and I had to go and get it,” Simuel said. “That was a very physical game. They came to play their game. That was a big win.”

mznidar@dispatch.com

@MarkZnidar

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