The Pickerington High School North football team is having its resolve tested as it deals with back-to-back losses for the first time under second-year coach Nate Hillerich.
The way the Panthers lost to Dublin Coffman 31-28 on Sept. 21 and Reynoldsburg 33-31 on Sept. 28 in their OCC-Ohio Division opener is what might be the most difficult part for them to stomach.
North led Coffman by a touchdown at halftime and outgained the Shamrocks 467-306 in total yards.
Then against the Raiders, the Panthers amassed 458 total yards while holding Reynoldsburg to 283 and led 24-7 entering the fourth quarter before giving up 26 consecutive points.
North cut its deficit to 33-31 when Jordan Lowery caught a pass from quarterback Mike Lowery and pitched the ball to Jaylon Baylor, who then ran 60 yards for a touchdown, but the Raiders recovered the ensuing onside kick.
"I think we'll bounce back," Hillerich said. "We've got good leaders and we'll find out who we are. You've got to find a way to win the close ones, and that's two weeks in a row."
North is 4-2 overall and will play its fifth home game in seven weeks when Grove City visits on Friday, Oct. 5.
The Dawgs have lost 25 of their last 26 games, including 15 of 16 under second-year coach Tennyson Varney. They lost to Lancaster 50-14 on Sept. 28 in their OCC-Ohio opener.
Sophomore Jared Knight has been at quarterback for much of the past five games for Grove City and has completed 40 of 73 passes for 384 yards but hasn't thrown a touchdown.
Running back Cole Crager has rushed for 233 yards and two touchdowns, including nine carries for 45 yards and one score against Lancaster.
Wide receiver Jevin Yors had six catches for 63 yards against the Golden Gales.
For North, Mike Lowery has completed 135 of 197 passes for 1,717 yards with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions but was intercepted twice by Reynoldsburg's Mershawn Rice.
Chris Scott has 41 receptions for 639 yards and eight touchdowns and Baylor has 26 catches for 292 yards and three scores.
Senior linebacker Ben Johnson has 11 tackles for loss and 52 tackles overall but did not play against Reynoldsburg because of an injury.