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The Panthers Rule Hilliard as Hilliard Darby Beats Hilliard Davidson 29-23

By Danny Fogarty, 09/11/21, 12:04AM EDT


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Whether it was Wildcat fans or Panther fans, every person at Davidson Stadium would agree on one thing: the town of Hilliard came alive on Friday night.

Hilliard Darby defeated Hilliard Davidson 29-23 on Friday on the road behind a big game by quarterback Blake Horvath. 

Horvath, a senior, had 185 rushing yards on the night, two rushing touchdowns, and one passing. 

Darby coach John Santagata said he has nothing but praise for how his quarterback played against Davidson. 

“He’s (Horvath) a tremendous athlete, he's a tremendous leader,” Santagata said. “I have nothing but positive things to say about him, and we're very happy that he's our quarterback.”

Although they lost, the Wildcats did enjoy some offensive success against Darby. 

This success was mainly led by receiver Leo Nixon who had 93 rushing yards and an impressive three touchdowns on the night. 

Leo Nixon steps into the endzone to cap off a 29-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of Friday's game. The touchdown would be Nixon's third of the game.

As each team entered the stadium, a concoction of boos and cheers came in from both ends of the field. 

Darby received the kickoff and used this to their advantage scoring a touchdown on the first drive as Horvath broke free for a 46-yard rushing touchdown. 

Davidson would struggle to get its footing in the first quarter as they punted twice and failed to have any substantial gains. 

Horvath would yet again get a chance to score as he muscled through the Wildcat defense on the way to his second touchdown of the quarter. 

The second quarter was quick and mainly uneventful with Davidson getting its first score in the form of a 14-yard field goal by kicker Aiden Ighnat just before the half. 

The third quarter was mainly uneventful save for a 35-yard rushing touchdown by Nixon to put the Wildcats in striking distance to Darby. 

But the Panthers we’re not fazed with running back 22 quickly scoring a rushing touchdown to give his team a two-possession lead once again. 

After another Davidson response in the form of a Nixon touchdown, Darby was in jeopardy of giving the ball back to its cross-city rival. 

On fourth down with about two yards to gain, everyone in the stadium, including the Wildcat defense, predicted a run. 

The Hilliard Darby student section lights up their flashlights as night descends upon Friday's game.

Darby shocked everyone, though, by running a play-action pass which paid off instantly as Horvath threw it to tight end Ben Marsh for an easy 30-yard touchdown. 

Santagata said that the play was actually Horvath’s idea, and it certainly paid off.

"We were just talking and Blake says 'Coach, this play's there,'" Santagata said. "So went ahead and did it."

Nixon rushed for yet another touchdown in his valiant effort to keep the game alive, but the game was clinched when Darby recovered the Wildcats' onside kick.

The player that recovered the kick to ensure Darby's victory was none other than Blake Horvath.

With the win, the Panthers improved to 4-0 on the season and will look to extend their undefeated streak at home next week against Gahanna Lincoln.

Davidson fell to 3-1 but will hope to get back to winning as it plays Thomas Worthington on the road next Friday night.

The crowd of Hilliard residents came in droves to see Darby and Davidson battle it out on Friday night hoping their team might win, but there can only be one ruler of the central Ohio town.

So, until next year, the Panthers are the rulers of Hilliard.