Big 2nd-half rally lifts Pacers past Cardinals


After starting the season 4-0, the Delaware Hayes football team came into its Week 7 matchup against host Thomas Worthington playing for its playoff lives.

After a sloppy, lackluster first-half performance by the Pacers on a rainy night in Worthington, whatever margin for error that might have existed was gone … and they played like it in the second half, scoring 21 unanswered points to rally for a 21-20 OCC win Friday night.

Down 20 and in desperate need of momentum, Hayes took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 64 yards on 15 plays to get on the scoreboard with a two-yard touchdown run by Warren Clasen.

The two teams traded stops as the game headed into the final quarter with Hayes still trailing 20-7. A 19-yard catch and run by Sam Lagando from quarterback Blake Eiland brought the Pacers to within a score with 9:35 left in the third quarter.

With Hayes already riding momentum, the defense came up with a crucial play, forcing Thomas Worthington wide receiver Habib Bundo to fumble after a 23-yard catch and run.

Eiland and the Pacer offense took over with nine minutes on the clock and put together the drive of the season. 14 plays and 61 yards later, Hayes was in the end zone again with another Clasen touchdown run. Kyle Klumpp’s extra point gave the Pacers their first lead of the night.

In need of one more stop to keep their playoffs hopes alive, senior Hayden McManus intercepted Charlie Rhoades in Hayes territory to stave off a potential game-winning drive.

Thomas Worthington set the early tone from the coin toss, winning the toss and electing to receive the ball. The Cardinals made good on the decision to take the football by putting together a five-play, 55-yard drive that was capped by a 28-yard touchdown run by senior running back Dijahn Davis.

After back-to-back drives by the Pacers ended with turnovers on downs, Thomas Worthington extended its lead on another touchdown run by Davis, this time a four-yarder on a direct snap.

The Cardinals would tack on another touchdown before the half, minus a missed extra point, and took a 20-0 lead into the locker room.

That failed extra point would loom large, however, in the second half.

Hayes (6-2, 3-2) will look to keep its playoff hopes alive next Friday at home against Hilliard Darby.

By Dillon Davis

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