Thomas Worthington-Worthington Kilbourne: Wolves dominate rivalry matchup with Cardinals

Stephen Borgna
ThisWeek group
Kilbourne’s Bryce Taylor hits Thomas quarterback Caleb Ortega as he attempts to pass during their season-closing game Oct. 30. The host Wolves won the Worthington rivalry showdown 29-7.

In a season that almost wasn't because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, it seemed fitting that the Worthington Kilbourne and Thomas Worthington football teams finished with a rivalry matchup.

Coming off a 35-13 loss at Olentangy on Oct. 24 in a Division II, Region 7 quarterfinal, the Wolves defeated the visiting Cardinals 29-7 on Oct. 30 to finish 6-4 and end the year on a high note. 

Kilbourne put together an all-around performance, finishing with 272 yards of offense while limiting Thomas to 127 total yards and scoring touchdowns on defense and special teams. It was the Wolves’ first win in the series since a 26-25 overtime victory in 2017; the Cardinals won 25-20 in 2018 and 20-13 last season.

“I was proud of them. When you go into a rivalry game, you never know what you’re going to get out of your kids,” Kilbourne coach Mike Edwards said. “Sometimes it will take them a quarter or two to settle into a football game. I thought we acted like a really mature football team in that game and I think we handled (our) business from start to finish.

“I was most impressed with how we played on defense and special teams — we made some plays on special teams that were huge X-factors in the game.” 

The Wolves received the opening kickoff and drove to the Thomas 34-yard line, but failed to convert on fourth-and-4 and the Cardinals took over on downs.

The teams then traded punts before Kilbourne struck first with a 32-yard fumble return for a touchdown by linebacker Ethan Loring with 3 minutes, 54 seconds left in the first quarter. 

The Wolves dominated after that while building a 29-0 lead. 

Senior running back Terrique Gray, who missed Weeks 2-4 because of injury and played limited snaps in Week 5, had a productive final game for Kilbourne. He scored two touchdowns, on an 11-yard run in the first quarter and a 3-yard run in the third, and finished with 29 carries for 110 yards and three receptions for 58 yards. 

“Man, he’s special. We always knew he was special,” Edwards said. “He was a huge part of our success (this season). I wish we could have had him (the entire year).” 

The Wolves also got a 43-yard punt return touchdown by Cayden Dougherty with 6:26 left in the third before Gray's second score. Dougherty also had eight receptions for 85 yards. 

Thomas scored on a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Caleb Ortega to Camden Beatty with 8:49 left in the fourth quarter. 

Kilbourne quarterback Mitchell Tomasek completed 14 of 24 passes for 154 yards with two interceptions. He was intercepted by Cole McDermott and A.J. Long-Lawrence. 

“I thought defensively we had a good game plan going into the game,” said Thomas coach Mike Picetti, whose team finished 2-7. “We were able to put together a good game plan; I thought our kids did a nice job with it.

“We obviously struggled offensively, but we definitely learned some lessons from this season and we saw some good play from some young kids that I think will help propel us into next year.” 

Ortega, who took over after Isaac Settles was injured in a 28-21 loss to Olentangy Berlin on Oct. 2, completed 13 of 27 passes for 71 yards with an interception by the Wolves' Skylar Scott. 

“(Ortega) had some good moments and some bad (this season),” Picetti said. “I think he has a long way to go going into next season, but I think the experience he got this year is definitely going to propel him a little bit.”

Cardinals running back Anthony Brewu rushed 13 times for 51 yards, and Long-Lawrence caught four passes for 42 yards.

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

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