The Pickerington Central football team avenged its only loss of the season while earning its fourth consecutive Division I state berth with a 23-7 win over Groveport in the Region 3 final Nov. 22 at DeSales.
The second-seeded Tigers improved to 12-1 and will play Mentor in a state semifinal Nov. 29 at a neutral site. The fourth-seeded Cruisers finished 10-3.
Groveport defeated Central 19-14 on Sept. 20. The Tigers haven’t lost since, running their winning streak to nine.
“Something about our guys when you get to November, we just flip a switch,” Central coach Jay Sharrett said. “We’ve played well down the stretch.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Central dominated the second period, outscoring Groveport 23-0.
Nick Mosley scored on a pair of 1-yard runs to give his team a 13-0 lead, and quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw added a 14-yard scoring run for a 20-0 lead with 3 minutes, 12 seconds left in the first half.
Drew Bookman added a 34-yard field goal as time expired in the half.
The Tigers collected 15 first downs to none for Groveport and had a 277-22 advantage in total yards in the first half.
“We were trying to stack it up,” Sharrett said of his team’s defensive strategy. “What they did to us last time, they got downhill and got gashes on us. You’re not going to completely stop them, but our defense attacked really well, stacked them up and kept them from getting those first downs.”
The Cruisers enjoyed more success in the second half, highlighted by Jalil Underdown’s 14-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
“We just couldn’t get first downs,” Groveport coach Bryan Schoonover said. “We only had three or four possessions (in the first half) and they stopped us. … The second half we were able to put drives together and get a score and try to make it a little bit more interesting. I just can’t say enough good things about these guys.”
Crenshaw rushed for 109 yards on 16 carries to lead the Tigers.
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final GROVEPORT 0 0 7 0 7 PICKERINGTON CENTRAL
0 23 0 0 23
PC—Mosley 1 run (kick failed)
PC—Mosley 1 run (Bookman kick)
PC—Crenshaw 14 run (Bookman kick)
PC—Bookman 34 FG
G—Underdown 14 run (Snyder kick)