For almost all of the first quarter of a game nationally televised by ESPN on Aug. 26 at Otterbein, the Pickerington High School Central football team and Chicago Phillips Academy neutralized each other athletically and execution-wise.
The matchup of teams that won state titles a season ago turned toward Ohio’s defending Division I champion on the final play of the opening quarter.
On what was the first of six turnovers caused by the Tigers, Ty Hamilton recovered a fumble at the Wildcats’ 29 to set up a 16-yard touchdown pass from Demeatric Crenshaw to Terry Simuel five plays later.
That seemed to set Central into a different zone as it built a 17-point halftime lead, forced a running clock midway through the third quarter and went on to win 49-18.
The game was part of the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown.
“I was nervous, but it feels great, unreal,” senior running back Jamir Jackson said. “As long as we keep our heads on right, we’re going to do big things this season.”
Phillips rallied to within 21-18 with a 4-yard touchdown run by Rayshaun Thompson with 2:52 left before halftime, but the game shifted further during the final minute of the second quarter.
With 51 seconds left before halftime, DeWayne Carter forced a fumble that was picked up by Hamilton, who ran 11 yards for a touchdown. Carter then recovered a fumble at the Wildcats’ 38 with two seconds left in the quarter.
Then on the final play of the half, Crenshaw found Jaquwon Crawford open over the middle of the field, and Crawford raced for a 38-yard touchdown to give the Tigers a 35-18 lead at halftime.
With 10:43 left in the third quarter, Jackson caught a pass from Crenshaw and ran for a 73-yard touchdown. The Tigers then completed their scoring with 6:54 left in the quarter with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Crenshaw to Karter Johnson.
Also in the second half, Simuel had an interception and Thomas Few and Mario Elmore had fumble recoveries.
“We had three films from last year on them and they’re a great program, so they’re not going to do something different,” Tigers coach Jay Sharrett said. “What we did was try to get a shoulder pad on (their defensive players) and give Demeatric enough time. We were fortunate enough to do that.”
Crenshaw finished 7-for-10 passing for 227 yards with four touchdowns and was given a game MVP plaque for the performance.
“I’m just happy with the win, really,” Crenshaw said.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final CHICAGO PHILLIPS ACADEMY 12 6 0 0 18 PICKERINGTON CENTRAL
14 21 14 0 49
PA—Thompson 4 run (kick failed)
PC—Styles 23 run (Bookman kick)
PA—Billingsley 4 run (run failed)
PC—Crenshaw 4 run (Bookman kick)
PC—Simuel 16 pass from Crenshaw (Bookman kick)
PA—Thompson 4 run (run failed)
PC—Hamilton 11 fumble return (Bookman kick)
PC—Crawford 38 pass from Crenshaw (Bookman kick)
PC—Jackson 73 pass from Crenshaw (Bookman kick)
PC—Johnson 51 pass from Crenshaw (Bookman kick)