Coach Jeff Graham had a simple message for his Trotwood-Madison football team Friday after a 42-19 loss to Pickerington Central.
“Keep you heads up,” Graham said.
Trotwood-Madison, which won the Division III state championship with a 15-0 mark in 2017, finds itself at 1-2 in 2018. Of course, that’s more of a reflection of the schedule the Rams have played than the quality of the team.
Trotwood-Madison beat Winton Woods 13-3 in week one before losing 33-6 to Simeon Career Academy, a powerful program from Chicago. Its third opponent, Pickerington Central, lost only one game last season — 29-18 at home to Trotwood — on its way to the Division I championship.
» GAME PHOTOS: Rams vs. Tigers
The Tigers (3-0) turned the tables on the Rams in the rematch, taking control in the third quarter on two big plays 88 seconds apart. Terry Simuel’s 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and Jaquwon Crawford’s 85-yard interception return for a score stretched a 14-13 lead to 28-13 with 6:18 to play in the third. Two touchdown runs in the fourth quarter by quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw sealed the victory.
The Rams showed resiliency by climbing out of a 14-0 deficit in the first quarter. If not for a missed extra point, they would have tied the game on quarterback Keon’tae Huguely’s 1-yard touchdown run with 8:03 left in the third quarter.
“That’s why you schedule games like this early,” Graham said. “You want to see how your team responds. Right now, our team is kind of down because they’re not used to losing, but they’ve got to find a will to fight. That’s what I want. I want to see that side of our team, and I think we’ll continue that. I think we’ll grow from that and be able to learn from our mistakes.”
Pickerington Central took a 7-0 lead on Jamir Jackson’s 2-yard touchdown run on the first drive of the game.
Trotwood-Madison cornerback Sammy Anderson ended Pickerington Central’s second scoring chance with an interception in the end zone, but Pickerington Central’s Dom Marasco got the ball right back with an interception, returning it to the Trotwood-Madison 1-yard line. Jackson capitalized on the turnover with a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Rams got back into the game by recovering a fumble at the Pickerington Central 43-yard line. Trotwood-Madison then faced 4th-and-goal from the 8 and scored when Isaiah Winchester caught a tipped pass inside the 1 and dove into the end zone, cutting the deficit to 14-7. That remained the score at halftime.
The momentum Trotwood-Madison gained later by trimming the deficit to 14-13 vanished on the ensuing kickoff, which Samuel’s returned for a score. Crawford’s interception returned followed moments later.
This was the third meeting in four seasons between the Rams and Tigers. They also played in the 2015 season opener with the Rams winning 32-25 in the Backyard Blitz at Wayne. Graham and Pickerington Central coach Jay Sharrett discussed the future of the series after the game.
“We’ll probably take a break from each other for a couple years and then match up again, as we should,” Sharrett said. “All the respect in the world (for the Rams). Our guys got complacent when we got up 14-0, and (the Rams) stuck their cleats in the ground, and next thing you know it’s 14-7, and they were pretty close to tying it up, so we were very fortunate to win the game.”