The Pickerington High School Central football team earned a return trip to a Division I state semifinal by holding off top-seeded Hilliard Davidson 20-13 in the Region 3 final Nov. 16 at Gahanna.
The Tigers, who won their first state title last season, improved to 11-2 and advanced to play Cincinnati Colerain in a state semifinal Nov. 23 at a site to be determined.
Jamir Jackson led Central with 97 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 18 carries.
The sixth-seeded Tigers opened a 20-10 lead with 7 minutes, 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter on a 13-yard touchdown run by Jackson before holding off Davidson’s comeback attempt.
After kicking a 27-yard field goal to close the Wildcats to within 20-13 with 3:27 to play, Sean Carrier recovered the ensuing onside kick at his team’s 46-yard line, but Davidson was unable to pull even.
“We wanted to put our defense in a good position, so whatever we could do to move the ball down the field, we did it,” Central quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw said. “If it would take running, that’s what it was. If it would take passing, we did that, too.”
Central held a 13-10 lead at halftime as Jackson scored on a 7-yard run and Crenshaw bulled in from a yard out with 22 seconds remaining in the half.
Christian Sweet scored on a 3-yard run to give Davidson a 10-7 lead with 5:01 left in the second quarter.
Jackson’s second touchdown of the game capped a nine-minute drive.
Kalib O’Connor led Davidson with 182 yards rushing on 26 carries.
“Our guys will fight to the end no matter who their opponent is,” Davidson coach Brian White said. “Obviously, that’s a really good team. Our kids came out and did what we knew they would do and that’s fight to the end and we just came up a little bit short.”
Davidson, which finished 11-2, played without leading rusher Jordan Hicks and leading tackler Evan Annis, who were out with concussions.
Central defeated Davidson 17-14 in overtime Sept. 21.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final PICKERINGTON CENTRAL 0 13 0 7 20 HILLIARD DAVIDSON
3 7 0 3 13
HD—Carrier 46 FG
PC—Jackson 7 run (Bookman kick)
HD—Sweet 3 run (Carrier kick)
PC—Crenshaw 1 run (kick failed)
PC—Jackson 13 run (Bookman kick)
HD—Carrier 27 FG