Charlie Rhoades threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns and DiJahn Davis rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns as the host Thomas Worthington High School football team defeated Canal Winchester 34-21 in the opener Aug. 24.
“We’ll go as far as our two seniors in the backfield can take us and both of them had incredible games,” Thomas coach Matt Zingery said. “Charlie made the one big mistake in the first half, but he’s a leader and put it behind him and DiJahn came on like gang-busters in the second half.”
It marked the second year in a row that Thomas rallied to beat Canal Winchester in the opener, as the Cardinals won 27-20 in double overtime last season.
“Well, just like last year, we didn’t play well in the second half,” Canal Winchester coach Josh Stratton said. “They played much harder in the second half. But, just like every year, that’s why we play 10 games in the regular season.”
The Indians rebounded to qualify for the playoffs last season.
Canal Winchester scored twice in 39 seconds in the first half to take a 14-7 lead into halftime. After a 61-yard touchdown pass from Jack Beeler to Stephan Byrd tied the score at 7, defensive lineman Michael Wilson intercepted a screen pass and returned it to the Thomas 2. He was rewarded on the next play when he got the handoff and scored to give the Indians a 14-7 lead.
But Thomas scored 20 points in the third quarter as Rhoades began connecting with receivers on fade routes once the Indians focused on stopping Davis.
Rhoades connected with Habib Bundo (7 yards) and Sheron Phipps (46 yards), and then Davis broke four tackles on a 34-yard touchdown run to give the Cardinals a 27-14 lead.
Canal Winchester got a 5-yard touchdown run from Darren Davis midway through the fourth quarter, but Thomas responded with a six-play, 78-yard drive to make it 34-21 with 5:21 remaining.
Phipps, who had six catches for 148 yards, then made an interception and the Cardinals ran out the clock.
In the first half, Thomas had a 21-yard punt, but blocked a 27-yard field-goal attempt. The Cardinals overcame four penalties on their final drive of the first half, but a 37-yard field-goal attempt was blocked.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final CANAL WINCHESTER 0 14 0 7 21 THOMAS WORTHINGTON
7 20 7 0 34
TW—Settles 9 pass from Rhoades (Graham kick)
CW—Byrd 61 pass from Beeler (Musik kick)
CW—Wilson 2 run (Musik kick)
TW—Bundo 7 pass from Rhoades (Graham kick)
TW—Phipps 46 pass from Rhoades (Graham kick)
TW—Davis 34 run (kick blocked)
CW—Davis 5 run (Musik kick)
TW—Davis 12 run (Graham kick)