Throughout most of the Pickerington Central football team’s nearly three-decade domination of Groveport, the majority of the matchups weren’t close — until the latest one.
On Sept. 20 in a meeting of previously unbeaten teams, the Cruisers got a big play on special teams and put together the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter to shock the state’s third-ranked Division I team 19-14.
It snapped a 28-game losing streak against the Tigers for Groveport, which improved to 4-0 while Central dropped to 3-1.
“It’s been 28 years,” coach Bryan Schoonover said. “It’s something really, really special.”
Trailing 14-7 late in the third quarter, Groveport’s JaShaun McGraw ran for an apparent 3-yard touchdown but the Cruisers were whistled for a chop block, with Austin Snyder then making a 34-yard field goal to make it 14-10.
Groveport forced the Tigers into a fourth-and-29 from their own 18 on the next possession and Jasiyah Robinson blocked a punt to give the Cruisers the ball at the Central 2.
“I hit him with a fake move outside, came in and I knew I had it coming,” Robinson said. “It doesn’t feel real yet, but we’re coming.”
The Tigers again kept Groveport out of the end zone, however, with Snyder making a 23-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 14-13.
John Motton intercepted Central’s Demeatric Crenshaw with 6 minutes, 41 seconds remaining to give Groveport the ball back at its own 42.
The Cruisers then drove for the game-winning score, a 19-yard run by Emmanuel Anthony with 1:54 remaining.
“We just kept punching it,” Anthony said. “We just didn’t give up. It’s a very special moment because we haven’t beaten them in 30 years. It’s emotional.”
The Cruisers took a 7-0 lead with 3:42 left in the first quarter when McGraw ran in from 3 yards on fourth-and-2. On second-and-20 from the Central 32, Anthony was stopped for a 4-yard loss but the Tigers were whistled for a personal foul.
The Cruisers got a 5-yard run by McGraw on third-and-4 and scored four plays later.
Shortly before a weather delay that lasted about one hour, the Tigers tied it at 7 on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Crenshaw to Max Lomonico. The play came on third-and-10 after Crenshaw eluded a heavy rush to find Lomonico open near the goal line.
“We knew we were playing a good team and you could see how physical they were,” said Tigers coach Jay Sharrett, whose team was limited to 82 yards rushing. “You couldn’t ask for any more effort than we gave. You’ve just got to kind of tip your hat to them.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final PICKERINGTON CENTRAL 0 14 0 0 14 GROVEPORT
7 0 3 9 19
G—McGraw 3 run (Snyder kick)
PC—Lomonico 35 pass from Crenshaw (Bookman kick)
PC—Mosley 3 run (Bookman kick)
G—Snyder 34 FG
G—Snyder 23 FG
G—Anthony 19 run (run failed)