Carson Parker rushed for 255 yards and five touchdowns and Gabe Cira rushed for 136 yards on 16 carries when Lima Central Catholic used a dominating ground game to beat Delphos St. John’s 54-27 at Spartan Stadium on Friday night.
The Thunderbirds rolled up 444 yards rushing and all seven of LCC’s touchdowns came on running plays.
“I thought our line did a really good job of being physical and I thought our backs ran hard and we did a really good job of coming off the ball at the line of scrimmage. I was really happy with our effort in the running game,” LCC coach Scott Palte said.
“Gabe is a hard runner. He runs physical. We wanted to get him going tonight too, with Carson. I thought they both did a good job of finishing and running hard. They’re two really good football players,” he said.
After taking a 24-13 halftime lead, LCC scored on its first offensive play of the second half on a 96-yard run by Parker to go up 31-13.
But St. John’s responded with a one-play drive of its own when Clay Paddubny ran 67 yards for a touchdown to make it 31-20.
A safety made it 33-20 and Parker’s fifth rushing touchdown of the night gave LCC a 40-20 lead with 11:57 left in the game.
The Thunderbirds added two more fourth quarter touchdowns on a 26-yard run by Cira and a 53-yard run by Payne Cutlip for the 54-27 final score.
Paddubny rushed for 153 yards on 10 carries for St. John’s (1-1).
LCC drove 78 yards in eight plays for a touchdown after taking the opening kickoff. Six of the plays were runs by Parker, including a 21-yard sprint for a touchdown with 8:40 left in the first quarter and a 7-0 lead after Michael Taflinger’s extra-point kick.
The big yardage play in the drive was a 37-yard pass to Gabe Cira.
LCC’s defense got the ball back to start the Thunderbirds’ second drive when Ethan Frankhouser recovered a fumble on St. John’s third offensive play of the game at the Blue Jays’ 49-yard line.
Nine plays later LCC raised the lead to 14-0 after Parker’s second touchdown run, this one from 5 yards out.
After gaining only 11 total yards in the first quarter, St. John’s gained 26 yards on a pass from Grant Ulm to Connor Gaynier on its first play of the second quarter and 22 yards on a touchdown run by Clay Paddubny on its second play of the quarter to cut the lead to 14-7.
LCC pushed its lead back to two touchdowns, at 21-7, on a 5-yard touchdown run by Parker to finish a 6-play, 65-yard drive with 8:59 left in the first half.
St. John’s answered with a long drive of its own to make it 21-13 on a 5-yard run by Ulm with 2:41 left in the first half.
After having a touchdown pass called back by a penalty in the final minute of the first half, LCC increased its lead to 24-13 on a 24-yard field goal by Taflinger.
LCC had 269-114 advantage in total yards in the first half, led by Parker rushing for 146 yards on 19 carries and throwing for 63 yards and Gabe Cira rushing for 60 yards rushing on four carries.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.