With Gahanna hungry to cut into a double-digit deficit early in the second half Sept. 13 at Hartley, Hawks senior defensive back George Dunor positioned himself deep in the secondary.
Dunor proceeded to intercept a pass from Gahanna quarterback Will Thomas and raced 73 yards to the Lions’ 2.
It set up a touchdown run by Mason Sawyer on the next play that sealed what would be a 38-21 victory for Hartley in the first meeting between the programs since the mid-1970s.
“I just took it and ran,” Dunor said. “I saw the way he was lining up and knew he was going to try to get a fade going, so I was waiting for that.”
Hartley, which improved to 3-0 while dropping the Lions to 0-3, took a 31-14 lead on Sawyer’s score, which came with 10 minutes, 25 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Gahanna drove to the Hawks’ 7 on the next drive, but Thomas threw incomplete into the end zone on fourth-and-goal.
The Hawks then marched 93 yards on 14 plays to go up 38-14, with Jalan January capping the possession with a 2-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Miles Fleming had runs of 15, 17 and 13 yards and hooked up with Marcelis Parker for a 14-yard reception during that possession.
“It’s a special group we have here at Hartley,” Fleming said. “We can do big things. We play for our brothers and came out with the ‘W’ tonight.”
After stopping Hartley on downs at its own 38 to end the game’s opening drive, Gahanna scored three plays later on a 47-yard pass from Thomas to Cam Morris.
Hartley tied it at 7 with 1:10 left in the first quarter when Fleming ran for an 8-yard touchdown on fourth-and-2. Setting up the score earlier in the drive was a 33-yard pass from Fleming to Parker.
The Hawks made it 14-7 with 10:31 left in the first half when Sawyer ran for a 4-yard touchdown. The drive started at the Gahanna 43 after a fumble recovery by Jake Skelly.
The Lions answered two plays later with a 70-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to Kobie Stillwell, but the Hawks took a 24-14 lead into halftime after a 21-yard field goal by Ryan Hawk and a 59-yard touchdown run by Richard Kenny.
Fleming finished with 12 rushes for 101 yards and one touchdown, and January had 117 yards rushing and one touchdown on 26 carries.
Travis Whittaker led the Lions with 132 yards rushing and one touchdown on 18 carries and added 55 yards in receptions.
“At times we had receivers open and couldn’t find them, and at times they were locked up and we had all day,” Lions coach Bruce Ward said. “We’ve just got to be able to execute and make better plays.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final GAHANNA LINCOLN 7 7 0 7 21 HARTLEY
7 17 14 0 38
G—Morris 47 pass from Thomas (Whittaker kick)
H—Fleming 8 run (Hawk kick)
H—Sawyer 4 run (Hawk kick)
G—Stillwell 70 pass from Thomas (Whittaker kick)
H—Hawk 21 FG
H—Kenny 59 run (Hawk kick)
H—Sawyer 2 run (Hawk kick)
H—January 2 run (Hawk kick)
G—Whittaker 4 run (Whittaker kick)