In one of Central Ohio’s best rivalries, Hartley avenged three losses in 2020 against DeSales and took a big step towards reclaiming the Central Catholic League championship by beating the Stallions.
COLUMBUS – Central Catholic League football fans were the big losers when enduring state powers St. Francis DeSales and Bishop Hartley did not clash from 1988 to 2013.
DeSales was placed in the three-team Silver division made up of slightly larger schools and Hartley in the two-team Gold division. For some reason, the cross play didn’t take place.
The revival of the series produced arguably the most competitive rivalry in all of Columbus, with the teams sharing 10 meetings. Six of the games were decided by seven points or less and three more were one-scoring games in the fourth quarter.
While neither team has a sparkling record or high state ranking like in previous years, DeSales-Hartley XXXVI on Friday at Hartley’s historic Jack Ryan turned out to be another memorable header, with wild twists and turns, big plays on both sides of the ball and a series of head-scratching calls from the team of officials.
This time, Hartley used three big plays on offense and two crucial defensive saves to thwart DeSales, 31-20, in avenge three form, yes three, defeats against the Stallions in 2020.
To help curb the spread of COVID-19, CCL teams have chosen to play at home and at home.
DeSales won 24-21 and 16-14, then defeated Hartley, 38-7, in a Division III regional title game. The Stallions ultimately lost the state championship game to Chardon, 31-28. in two extra hours.
“We’ve had this game circled on our schedule for almost a year,” said Hawks junior quarterback Peyton Underwood.
All-Ohio senior defensive tackle Daniel Tooson added, “We’ve been on fire since we ended our season last year with a loss to DeSales. When we were here in the snow in December to train among ourselves, it was certainly a great motivator. “
Boasting a small arsenal of quick playmakers, Hartley was seen as the favorite this time around. Not only was he decimated by graduation, DeSales lost All-Ohio linebacker and presented running back Jonathan Thompson with a broken ankle during a scrum. Now in a walking boot, Thompson hopes to return in two to three weeks.
As usual, this game went back and forth all night.
In game four of the game, Nyal Johnson ran 25 yards to put Hartley in the lead, 7-0.
Later in the quarter, DeSales quarterback Whit Hobgood scored on a 7-yard goalie to make it 7-6.
The Stallions took a huge break early in the second quarter when an Underwood pass was judged by a fullback and linebacker Asher Hayes alerted it and executed it for a 15-yard touchdown. TV reruns made it clear that the pass was not lateral.
There were also several questionable bullet points that resulted in early testing, or in one case not. And officials often neglected to order the press gallery to restart the clock, angering fans.
Hartley hit back quickly when Underwood hit Trey Saunders in stride on a bomb from 52 yards for a TD to make it 14-all.
It was Saunders’ ninth touchdown this season.
Underwood and Richard Kenny hung on to a 31-yard touchdown late in the half to extend Hartley’s lead to 21-14. Underwood deftly froze security with a dummy pump to free Kenny.
“It’s great to have guys like Saunders and Kenny to pitch to,” Underwood said. “We were hoping to soften their defense with some big passing play so we could establish the run. “
In the final 95 seconds of half-time, DeSales went from his own 20 to Hartley 16. With seven seconds left, the Stallions opted to shoot into the end zone. Hobgood’s pass intended for Isaac Pekarcik was knocked down and intercepted by Aidan Turner.
“Aidan’s choice was great and it really lifted our spirits before half-time,” said Hartley coach Brad Burchfield.
DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins has admitted turnover is critical.
“We had some difficulties in this area of the pitch and we decided to be aggressive and try to score before half-time,” he said. “It was one of the few missed opportunities tonight that we couldn’t recover.”
At the end of a seven-minute, 80-yard run to open the third quarter, Hobgood ran 19 yards to the end zone on a fourth and three goaltender. On a two-point conversion goalkeeper, Hobgood appeared to score but the officials converged and decided otherwise. TV reruns and still photographs clearly showed Hobgood extending the ball over the goal line before his knee hit the ground.
Hartley only needed six plays to cover 78 yards and strengthen his lead to 28-20. Johnson’s 2-yard touchdown was established by a 46-yard gain by fullback Dylan Newsome on a belly dive.
In his next streak, DeSales went for the fourth and the 1 near midfielder, but Gabe Caruso was pissed off without a win by Tooson, who is one of Ohio’s most dominant defensive players.
“We came up with some huge defensive plays at pivotal times,” said Burchfield. “DeSales might not be that powerful with (Quintell) Quinn gone and Thompson, but Hobgood is a damn good point guard for them and a handful to stop. We knew it would be a one point game in the fourth and we were just going to have to be the toughest team. “
Hartley put in a 29-yard field goal from Alex Gabriel midway through the fourth quarter to increase his record to 4-2. DeSales is 2-4. The Stallions lead the all-time streak 21-13-2.
Resumes from both programs suggest the possibility of another playoff rematch. Hartley claims four state championships, two finalists and 10 regional titles. DeSales has three gold trophies, six finalists and 12 regional titles.
“What does this victory bring us? Said Burchfield. “It puts us in a great position to win the CCL, and that’s still one of our main goals. We are improving every week, but we are still a long way from where we want to be and where we are going to be.