Playing each other twice in three weeks neutralized much of what both the Pickerington Central and Reynoldsburg football teams tried to do during their first-round Division I, Region 3 playoff game Nov. 8.
The host Tigers lost two fumbles in the fourth quarter but forced three interceptions and a fumble recovery while limiting the Raiders to minus-14 yards rushing as Central held off a late rally for a 20-14 victory.
Central improved to 10-1 and advanced to play Olentangy Orange in a regional semifinal Nov. 15.
Reynoldsburg, which had lost to the Tigers 40-14 on Oct. 25, finished 7-4.
“We watched film every morning and knew their schemes,” said Tigers senior linebacker Dom Marasco, who had an interception and a fumble recovery. “It feels great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Reynoldsburg cut its deficit to 20-14 with 4 minutes, 16 seconds remaining when quarterback Michael Whatley connected with James Dean for a 23-yard touchdown.
The Raiders forced Central to punt on the ensuing possession and took over at their own 15 with 2:20 left.
Reynoldsburg drove to its own 47 but threw three incomplete passes and turned the ball over on downs as Central held on.
“Reynoldsburg came in with a great game plan and played stout football against us,” Tigers coach Jay Sharrett said. “What was neat was they stale-mated our offense, but when our defense needed an answer, they (got it).”
The Tigers had a disastrous opening possession, with Sirron Smith being stopped for a 3-yard loss and quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw being tackled for a 10-yard loss. On fourth-and-24 from the Central 6, Drew Bookman’s punt was blocked in the end zone by Deshawn Mattox and Myles Carter fell on it for a touchdown.
Central, however, marched 80 yards on 15 plays on the next drive, capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Nick Mosley to tie the game at 7.
Bookman made a 25-yard field goal with 1:47 to go before halftime and an interception by Marasco on the first play of the Raiders’ ensuing drive gave the Tigers the ball at their own 45.
A 33-yard pass from Crenshaw to Jakii Alston moved Central to the Reynoldsburg 9 and two plays later, Crenshaw hit Ty Hamilton for a 7-yard touchdown to make 17-7 at halftime.
Crenshaw rushed for 86 yards and was 14-for-21 passing for 172 yards.
“They played hard and still had a chance to win at the end,” Raiders coach Buddy White said. “We just came up short. We had a couple too many turnovers. That’s what killed us more than anything else.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final REYNOLDSBURG 7 0 0 7 14 PICKERINGTON CENTRAL
7 10 3 0 20
R—Carter recovered blocked punt in end zone (Goff kick)
PC—Mosley 3 run (Bookman kick)
PC—Bookman 25 FG
PC—Hamilton 7 pass from Crenshaw (Bookman kick)
PC—Bookman 38 FG
R—Dean 23 pass from Whatley (Goff kick)