Not having its No. 1 running back for the second consecutive week didn’t alter the host Pickerington North football team’s game plan Nov. 1 against Gahanna.
Knowing they needed a win to clinch a playoff berth in Division I, Region 3, the Panthers got 137 yards on 25 carries from freshman Dawaun Green, including a long run to set up their final touchdown during a 21-9 victory.
North moves on to the postseason with a 6-4 record that includes a runner-up finish in the OCC-Ohio Division at 4-1.
The Lions, who entered on a three-game winning streak, finished 3-7 overall and 3-2 in the league.
“We controlled the line of scrimmage,” North coach Nate Hillerich said. “That’s been our MO all year. We’re built around toughness and who’s better up front, and that’s what we did tonight.”
Green, who was filling in at running back for the second consecutive game with Idris Lawrence out with an injury, broke a 49-yard run to the Gahanna 11 early in the fourth quarter.
Two plays later, quarterback Jack Sawyer ran for a 7-yard touchdown for the game’s final points with 7 minutes, 27 seconds remaining.
“It feels great,” Green said. “It was just a great win. I give all respect to the line. They did their jobs.”
With 5:58 to go in the first quarter, Gahanna took a 3-0 lead on a 25-yard field goal by Payton Smith.
The Panthers took a 7-3 lead with 4:33 to go in the opening period when Green took a handoff from Sawyer and gave it to Chris Scott, who ran for a 56-yard touchdown on a reverse.
Gahanna drove deep into North territory on the next drive but had a 32-yard field-goal attempt by Smith blocked by Josiah Williams.
North made it 14-3 with 1:33 left in the second quarter when Sawyer completed a 12-play, 91-yard drive with a 3-yard run.
Gahanna cut it to 14-9 on a 1-yard run by Travis Whittaker with 7:45 to go in the third quarter. The Lions started the drive at the North 8 after a fumble recovery by Mondra Curry.
Whittaker finished with 138 yards on 34 carries, giving him seven 100-plus yardage games on the season and 1,180 yards overall.
“I know our record doesn’t really show it, but our kids have never given up,” Lions coach Bruce Ward said. “There were a couple plays we just needed to finish.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final GAHANNA 3 0 6 0 9 PICKERINGTON NORTH
7 7 0 7 21
G—Smith 25 FG
PN—Scott 56 run (Pope kick)
PN—Sawyer 3 run (Pope kick)
G—Whittaker 1 run (kick failed)
PN—Sawyer 7 run (Pope kick)