The Hilliard Darby High School football team dominated the first half, building enough of a cushion to hold off host Delaware Hayes 31-28 in an OCC-Cardinal Division contest Oct. 19.

The Panthers, who improved to 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the league, led 21-0 at halftime but held on to survive a second-half rally by the Pacers, who fell to 6-3 and 3-3.

“I thought we played a very strong first half on both sides of the ball, but we let them score on the first possession of the second half and then we fumbled at our own 5-yard line to really let them get back into it,” Darby coach John Santagata said. “But when things got tight, (quarterback) Jack Stultz put a good pass up there for Evan Grose and that was the biggest play of the game. We had a few other times when we had guys open and didn’t connect.”

Stultz connected with Grose on a 35-yard touchdown pass that gave the Panthers a 31-21 lead with 5 minutes, 20 seconds remaining.

Delaware pulled within 31-28 on a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Blake Eiland to Sam Lagando with 41 seconds remaining. However, Kyle Klumpp’s ensuing onside kick bounced high but went off the fingertips of a Delaware player and out of bounds, allowing Darby to run out the clock.

“There are no moral victories, but we played our butts off in the second half,” Delaware coach Scott Wetzel said. “We gave ourselves a chance once we settled down at halftime. I think we were too tight to start the game and at halftime we just said, ‘Let’s go play football.’”

Delaware scored on a 1-yard run by Warren Clasen to make it 21-7 midway through the third quarter. After Darby tacked on a field goal, Clasen scored on a 71-yard run on a reverse.

Darby then fumbled deep in its own end, setting up a 5-yard touchdown pass from Eiland to Mekhi Smith on the first play of the fourth quarter to pull the Pacers within 24-21.

Stultz capped a five-play drive on the game’s opening possession with a 1-yard touchdown run and capped a 14-play, 77-yard drive that consumed nearly eight minutes with another 1-yard run to make it 14-0 early in the second quarter.

Darby fullback Connor Jones, who rushed for 116 yards on 13 carries in the first half to set up most of the scoring, got on the scoreboard with a 7-yard touchdown run with under five minutes left in the first half.

Jones finished with 148 yards rushing on 23 carries.

Eiland rushed for 112 yards on 23 carries and was 14-for-25 passing for 101 yards with two touchdowns to lead the Pacers.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

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Team 1 2 3 4 Final HILLIARD DARBY 7 14 3 7 31 DELAWARE HAYES
0 0 14 14 28

HD—Stultz 1 run (Mowell kick)

HD—Stultz 1 run (Mowell kick)

HD—Jones 7 run (Mowell kick)

DH—Clasen1 run (Klumpp kick)

HD—Mowell 25 FG

DH—Clasen 71 run (Klumpp kick)

DH—Smith 5 pass from Eiland (Klumpp kick)

HD—Grose 35 pass from Stultz (Mowell kick)

DH—Lagando 7 pass from Eiland (Klumpp kick)