After finishing 0-10 last year, and going 12-68 since 2005, the Lima Senior football team had made tremendous strides this season heading into Friday night’s road game against Central Catholic.
On this night, however, the visiting Spartans ran into a buzzsaw at Gallagher Stadium, as the Irish secured a share of their first Three Rivers Athletic Conference championship with a lopsided 70-26 victory.
Central — the 2012 Division II state champion and currently ranked No. 2 in Division III — spotted Lima Senior a 6-0 lead before unleashing a tidal wave of offense and defense and special teams on the Spartans (5-4, 4-2).
“That’s a good offense,” Central coach Greg Dempsey said of Lima’s early TD. “They can score points. But we responded to it, and that’s the key. We had been starting out real hot the last few weeks, and it was good to see us get down and see how we reacted to it. It was a great game after that.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here for more photos from this game
DeShone Kizer completed six of 10 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns, plus ran for an Irish score, and Tre’Von Wade rushed 13 times for 119 yards and scored three TDs as Central went to 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the TRAC.
That first Lima touchdown was answered by 41 consecutive Irish points, and by halftime Central held a 55-12 lead.
That offensive wave began on the first play from scrimmage after the Spartans had grabbed the lead 2:47 into the game on an 11-yard pass from Justice Graham to Ruben Flowers.
Kizer sent his first pass deep to Derich Weiland for a 55-yard touchdown, and Patrick Schommer’s extra-point kick put the Irish up for good just 19 seconds after Lima’s score.
Central got the ball back, and two Kizer completions of 29 and 25 yards set of Wade’s seven-yard TD run with 6:31 left in the first quarter. After the Spartans lost a fumble, the Irish needed just four plays to find the end zone again, this time on Kizer’s 46-yard TD bomb to Jermiah Braswell.
“We were clicking on all cylinders,” Kizer said. “We weren’t dropping any passes, they were running perfect routes, and the offensive line was really doing its job.
“When we’re clicking on all cylinders, there’s not too many teams that can stop this offense. And, when the defense is coming out and stopping a high-powered offense as well as they did, it shows that we really are one of the better teams in northwest Ohio.”
Running back Paul Moses then got into the act, scoring on a seven-yard run for a 27-6 Central lead with 3:09 still left in the first quarter.
Wade’s 15-yard TD run 14 seconds into the second quarter was followed by a three-yard scoring run by Moses, giving Central a 41-6 lead just 2:55 into the second quarter.
Lima interrupted the Irish scoring surge briefly, as Graham once again went to Flowers for a 13-yard TD 5:24 before halftime, but Wade added a 16-yard TD run, and Kizer scored on an eight-yard keeper for the 55-12 halftime advantage.
“That’s a good football team and anything we could do wrong we did wrong tonight,” Lima coach Mike Fell said. “It just steamrolled. They kicked us in every facet of the game.
“We’ll forget about it and get ready to play again. There’s nothing you can say. That was just one of those games where there was nothing we could do about it.”
Central got second-half TD runs from Charles Smith (28 yards) and Jordan Parker (16 yards), plus tackled Graham in the end zone for a safety.
The Irish topped Lima 438-235 in total offense, and the Spartans added to their own woes with five turnovers, including four lost fumbles.
The Spartans got their final TDs on a 74-yard run by Ilias Wright and a 66-yard run by Ryan Mays, both in the final quarter.
Central — which coming in had already clinched the top seed in Region 8 of Division III, assuring a first-round home playoff game — looks to wrap up a perfect regular season and an outright TRAC crown next week at Clay.
“I think we’re still getting better,” Dempsey said. “There are areas we’re still improving in. We’re taking what the other team is giving us when we’re on offense, and defensively we’re staying consistent and making plays.”
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.