Visiting Dublin Jerome scored 20 of its points in a three-minute span in the first half and nine points in a 40-second burst in the second half to roll to a 43-7 victory over Delaware Hayes in a key OCC-Cardinal Division game Friday.
The defeat, the fourth consecutive loss for Delaware, dropped the Pacers to 3-4 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Cardinal Division. With the win, the Celtics, ranked second in the Division I, Region 2 computer rankings improved to 7-0 overall, 3-0 in the league.
“That’s just what good football teams do,” said Pacers defensive coordinator Justin Malivuk, who has been sharing the head coaching duties with several other members of the coaching staff in the absence of head coach Mike Golden. “They take advantage of opportunities. There’s a reason why they are undefeated.”
Part of that reason appears to be the communication between quarterback Joe Dunnan and his receivers. Dunnan completed 11 of 21 passes for 256 yards, including four touchdown passes (three to wide receiver Ty Henderson, who caught touchdown passes of 61, 84, and 35 yards in the rout). Dunnan also found Thomas Henderson for a 30-yard touchdown strike and running back Austin Booth rushed for touchdowns of 8 and 11 yards to lead Jerome.
At times the Pacers defense appeared to be at the right place. Delaware forced three turnovers and its secondary broke up several of Dunnan’s passes. However, Dunnan then found one of the Hendersons in a seam of the defense and the receivers would break off a big play.
“You can look at it two ways – they did a great job of passing or we had some glitches that led to some easy plays,” Malivuk said. “I think it was a combination of the two.
“We were hit or miss tonight. Sometimes we would bust a coverage and it would go for a touchdown. The next time we would intercept it or break it up. We need to be more consistent and make great plays all the time.”
After forcing an interception on Delaware’s opening drive, Booth went to work. He toted the ball on four consecutive carries for 31 yards including the 8-yard touchdown. In all, Delaware turned the ball over four times and Jerome coughed up the football three times.
Delaware looked like it could go into the half only down a touchdown but in the five minutes of the first half things unraveled. Facing a fourth down and 3 at the Celtics 39, Dunnan gambled and hit Ty Henderson. Given a slight opening, Ty Henderson twisted through the outstretched arms of the defenders for the 61-yard touchdown.
A play later, the Celtics forced another turnover and Dunnan found Thomas Henderson in a seam of the Pacers defense. Thomas Henderson turned the slight tear in the fabric into a 30-yard TD.
Delaware was forced into a three-and-out on the ensuing possession and Dunnan went to work again. He returned to Ty Henderson, who turned a small hook pattern into an 84-yard touchdown.
“They did a good job of recognizing the plays and hitting it and we didn’t do our job call wise,” Malivuk said. “Once they caught the ball, they did a lot with it. We’ll get that fixed (before we face Thomas Worthington on Friday).”
The Pacers couldn’t get anything started against the Celtics. Jerome put eight men in a box, which effectively stymied the running game and the passing. Delaware’s only score of the game was set up by a risky fake punt by Derrick Buford. Facing a fourth-and-16 on the Delaware 34, Buford sidestepped the rush and broke free on a 26-yard jaunt for the first down. Two plays later, quarterback Anthony Rodgers hit Aaron Adair for a 23-yard touchdown pass with 1:10 remaining before the half.
“We actually had a fake punt called but the way they aligned, we backed out of it,” Malivuk said. “Derrick made a great read. He saw the punt was going to get blocked so he just sidestepped the rush and was the great player he is and got the first down.”
The Pacers forced turnovers on the Celtics first two possessions of the second half with Rodgers picking off Dunnan and Brandon Donges scooping up a fumble. Unfortunately for Delaware, the Pacers couldn’t capitalize.
Jerome received a safety when Buford stepped out of the end zone trying to field a high snap. On the ensuing play, Dunnan found Ty Henderson for the 35 yard touchdown with 5:50 remaining in the quarter.
On the following drive, Booth carried the ball four consecutive times for 56 yards including an 11-yard touchdown run to close out the scoring. Booth finished the game with 85 yards on eight carries.
“We need to be in the right place all the time,” Malivuk said. “We talked about that this week. We just need to do our job. A lot of the times tonight, we did our job and things worked out for us. Unfortunately there were a few instances when we weren’t able to get it done and that turned into big plays for them.”