Just as running back Alex Widener of the Lancaster High School football team barreled across the goal line for his second touchdown of the game, the rain intensified and so did the wind.
The conditions in the fourth quarter couldn’t have been more perfect for the Golden Gales’ rushing attack, which helped close out Lancaster’s 35-21 victory at Pickerington North in an OCC-Ohio Division contest Oct. 19.
“We’re built for this stuff, day in and day out, every single day,” Widener said. “We love this slop. We love the rain. We love the mud.”
Lancaster, which improved to 6-3 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Ohio, finished with 220 yards rushing. The Gales earned at least a share of the league championship and remained in the hunt for a Division I, Region 3 playoff berth.
Jake Richards’ 72-yard touchdown run gave the Gales a 28-21 lead with 43 seconds left in the third quarter. Widener’s second touchdown, a 4-yard run, came with 10:07 left.
North, which dropped to 5-4 overall and 1-3 in the league, failed to convert on three drives that started in Lancaster territory — at the 35-, 36- and 45-yard lines — in the third quarter.
“We had some great defense that turned them back,” Lancaster coach Rob Carpenter said. “They have an explosive offense with a great quarterback and a lot of weapons, but in those conditions, it’s scary.”
The Gales trailed 21-10 in the second quarter but scored the final 14 points of the first half.
Phillip Slater made field goals of 32 and 29 yards before quarterback Tyler Monk’s 1-yard touchdown run capped off a nine-play, 64-yard drive with six seconds left in the half. Monk passed to Lucas Gauerke for the two-point conversion to even the score at 21.
North quarterback Mike Lowery, who completed 16 of 36 passes for 201 yards, threw three first-half touchdowns, including a 61-yarder to Jaylon Baylor on the Panthers’ opening drive.
Lowery’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Foster made it 14-7 in the second quarter, and his 6-yard touchdown pass to Tim Cheatwood on the next drive gave North its largest lead at 21-10.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final LANCASTER 7 14 7 7 35 PICKERINGTON NORTH
7 14 0 0 21
L—Widener 10 run (Stewart kick)
PN—Baylor 61 pass from Lowery (Pope kick)
PN—Foster 5 pass from Lowery (Pope kick)
L—Slater 32 FG
PN—Cheatwood 6 pass from Lowery (Pope kick)
L—Slater 29 FG
L—Monk 1 run (Gauerke pass from Monk)
L—Richards 72 run (Stewart kick)
L—Widener 4 run (Stewart kick)