Central Ohio Huddle: Rivalry games stir emotion, Whitehall football wins – finally


Central Ohio Huddle

There were several performances of note this week in Central Ohio both on the football field and in other sports. One team snapped a 36-game losing streak, one team rallied with three seconds left and another bounced back from a devastating opening week performance. Who did what? Find out here.

This Battle for Broad Street was left containing a nest of physical Hornets.

Licking Heights defended its crown as best on Broad St. and Pataskala, surging back from a 17-3 halftime deficit with 27 unanswered points to defeat rival Watkins Memorial.

The Hornets, now 2-0 and a possible contender in the Mid-State League’s Cardinal Division, was led for the second consecutive week by a bruising offensive line and the hard running of tailback Dan Pennington.

“This is our year; this is our city,” Pennington told the Newark Advocate. “We planned to keep it that way.”

And he did.

Pennington scored all four second-half touchdowns, and amassed 206 yards on 37 carries. The Licking Heights senior has racked up 700 yards rushing in just the first two weeks of the season has reached pay dirt 11 times.

There was also another intense rivalry – this one in Pickaway County.

Westfall seemed in control of its game with Logan Elm when Nick Hammond intercepted a Logan Elm pass, and the Mustangs proceeded down the field to score on a 27-yard touchdown strike from Vinnie Williamson to Jarred Abram, putting Westfall head 21-14 with 54 seconds left.

Not so fast.

After throwing two interceptions earlier in the game, Logan Elm quarterback Johnnie Brown led the Braves on a memorable drive. The LE senior connected with Anthony Vagnier on a 39-yard pass on a fourth-and-10 from the Braves’ 23. Following a 15-yard face mask penalty by Westfall, Brown hit Blake Riffle on a 35-yard flag route with just three seconds left.

Then came a decision.

“We knew if we were going to win, it had to be there,” Logan Elm head coach Scott Bartholomew said. “We had some injuries and other things,” and every coach agreed it was the right decision.”

Following a timeout, Logan Elm went for the game – and succeeded – on a inside handoff to Vagnier to put the Braves ahead 22-21 and extend their regular-season win streak to 12 games.

“It was open all night long, and the line did a great job of blocking and making it happen,” Vagnier said. “This was an unbelievable win for us that is going to give us a big lift in confidence.”

This wasn’t the first time Bartholomew, a former head coach at Westfall, and the Braves broke the hearts of the Mustangs. Following a lighting delay last season, Logan Elm overcame a two-touchdown deficit to upset Westfall 32-28. It was a signature win for the team en route in a turnaround from 0-10 in 2007 to 12-1 in 2008.

Westfall head coach Scott Keller hopes the Mustangs can rebound like they did last year, winning their last eight games, claiming another Scioto Valley Conference title and another trip to the playoffs.

“Our kids have too much character to let this linger, and they’re going to come back strong from this,” Keller said.


Thomas Hinkle, Fredericktown: Hinkle led an air assault against Berne Union, completing 18 of 23 passes for 285 yards and five touchdowns on passes of 33, 36, 26, 11 and 44 yards. The Freddies, off to a 2-0 start, used the assault to cream the Rockets 48-13. Fredericktown has scored 102 points in its first two games of the season.


Whitehall, football: Thirty-six straight games of losing and misery finally came to a end last week for the Whitehall football team.

Led by touchdowns runs of one and four yards in the first half by Channin Porter, the Rams ended a losing streak that extended back to 2005 with a 13-8 win over Linden.

The last time Whitehall had won a football game was a 27-21 upset of Bexley in Week 6 of the 2005 season.

To clinch the win, the Rams had to make a stand in third quarter on their own two-yard line. Whitehall stopped Linden cold on three-straight running plays, then Travis Clark intercepted a pass on fourth down.


A quarter of heavy work: Olentangy Orange’s Corey Joe had a busy second quarter against Mifflin, throwing a pair of touchdown passes and returning a punt 45 yards in a 35-6 Pioneer win.

A Canal ambush:
Canal Winchester scored on its first two possessions and kept going in a 49-14 ambush of the Jonathan Alder Pioneers. Following an Alder score before half, the Indians scored on their first four possessions off the second half. The streak was started by quarterback Justin Whitlatch hitting Zack Hitchens on a 47-yard pass. Michael Mainella, who made three trips to pay dirt in the game, then scored on a three-yard plunge to make it 28-7.

Canal Winchester went to 2-0 in the win, while Alder fell to a surprising 0-2.

Bounce back:
Give Upper Arlington a lot of credit. Following a 52-7 pasting administered by defending national champion St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) in the Herbstreit Varsity Series, the Golden Bears bounced back with an impressive 28-20 win over City League power Beechcroft.

Drew Karram ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns for UA and Kyle Cassady ran for a touchdown and threw for another.

Ignore the opening loss, which would have happened to 99 percent of the teams in the state. The Bears will be a contender in the Region 3.

Pacers on the move:
After making the playoffs last season, Delaware is off to a 2-0 start this year. The Pacers edged Olentangy 17-14 last week, fueled by a 32-yard touchdown pass from Cody Akers to Nick Kaser and a seven-yard touchdown run by Vidal O’Conner.

Still undefeated:
Hilliard Bradley moved to 2-0 in its first-year with a 28-22 win over Teays Valley, led by Derrick Tieman throwing for 161 yards and rushing for 79 more with a touchdown. Jeffy Johnson rushed for a score, and Jordan Mulford caught five passes for 111 yards and added 79 yards on the ground.

Steak over:
After coming a yard short of a potential victory over Big Walnut, Westerville Central ended its 12-game losing streak with a 34-28 win over New Albany. Taqwaun Council scored a touchdown with 23 seconds left to put the finishing touch on a 70-yard drive.

Out for a cruise:
Groveport’s Le’Veon Bell had an impressive outing in a 55-34 non-league win over Marysville. Bell registered 228 yards rushing on 36 carries and scored three touchdowns, and also scored on a pass.

A non-pretty win:
Watterson didn’t score in the second half. It didn’t have a drive longer than 19 yards. It didn’t matter. The Eagles did enough to defeat Westerville South 16-10. Watterson scored nine of its points in the last 2 minutes and 40 seconds of the first half.

The Eagles took advantage of a botched punt snap to score on a pass from Greg Hock to Matt Schweitzer with 4:40 before halftime. Watterson took the lead on a safety after pinning South on its two, and used a South dropped punt to take the ball back and score a touchdown on a pass from Hock to Marc Elberson.

Two Madison wins:
London had the running shoes on against Hamilton Township, consuming 346 yards in a 41-16 win. Jake Burns registered 141 of the yards and scored three times for the unbeaten Red Raiders. Another Madison County team, West Jefferson rolled to a 35-0 win in over county rival Madison-Plains, led by D.J. Mendenhall throwing for 196 yards and three touchdowns.


Dublin Coffman (2-0) at Brookhaven (1-1), Friday at 7:30 p.m.:
Coffman, which defeated Holy Trinity of Ontario province in Canada 55-13 last week, holds a good playoff points win over Olentangy Liberty already and could add another with a win over Brookhaven. Brookhaven, which fell 22-13 last week to Hilliard Davidson, will look for some momentum before going into City League play.

Liberty Union (2-0) at Amanda-Clearcreek (2-0), Friday at 7:30 p.m.:
The Lions rebounded off a near scare in Week 1 (30-27 win over Bloom-Carroll) to soundly defeat Fairfield Union 31-7. Amanda-Clearcreek hasn’t allowed a point yet, and defeated Zane Trace 37-0 last week. The Lions have won both games since this Fairfield County rivalry was reestablished, including a 37-7 thrashing of A-C in Baltimore last season. The Aces are out to prove they are back following an uncharacteristic 3-7 mark last season.

West Jefferson (2-0) vs. Bishop Ready (2-0) at Hilliard Bradley, Friday at 7:30 p.m.:
West Jeff hammered Madison-Plains 35-0 last week, while Ready trounced Hebron Lakewood 52-21. Two Division V, Region 20 rivals go at it in a possible playoff preview.

St. Charles (1-1) at Beechcroft (1-1), Friday at 7:30 p.m.:
St. Charles defeated defending Div. III state-runner-up Eastmoor Academy 26-7, while Beechcroft fell 28-20 to Upper Arlington. Beechcroft needs this game for playoff points Brookhaven is only tough game remaining on schedule for the Cougars.

Marion Pleasant (1-1) at Buckeye Valley (1-1), Friday at 7:30 p.m.:
Pleasant defeated Northmor 42-7 last week, while Valley edged Marion Elgin 14-7. Pleasant looks to continue and roll after a tough opening week loss to St. Henry.

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