BLANCHESTER — In a season-opening showdown between two highly-touted sophomore quarterbacks, it was Washington’s Gio Thomas who put on a show.
Thomas, fresh off winning a Division I state title with Pickerington Central last December, threw for 413 yards and six touchdowns Friday night as the Blue Lions won a shootout against Blanchester 58-42 at Barbour Memorial Field.
After trailing 21-12 in the first quarter, Washington (1-0) scored 33 unanswered points to take a 45-21 lead with 5:54 left in the third.
Even with the drought in scoring, Blanchester trailed by just 15, 51-36, with 8:55 left in the fourth. Washington faced a third and seven from its own 48.
Thomas threw a screen pass to Dillon Steward, who appeared to be bottled up a couple of times by Blanchester defenders. However, the shifty wide receiver weaved his way through Wildcat defenders for 27 yards.
Washington scored three plays later on Thomas’ sixth touchdown pass of the game, this one to Rishaun Burns, to finish off the Wildcats.
Blanchester quarterback Brayden Sipple also had strong numbers, throwing for 333 yards and three touchdowns. He had just one interception, but it was a big play in the first half.
With Washington leading 24-21, Sipple threw a wide receiver screen. Washington’s Steward broke on the ball but appeared to have overrun the pass. He reached behind him, tipped it up in front of him, and finally corralled the ball after about five steps.
Twenty yards later, Steward was in the endzone and the Blue Lions led at the half 31-21.
While most of the attention went to the two offenses, it was the Washington defense that had a strong stretch early in the game when the Blanchester offense looked unstoppable.
In the first 7:24 of the game, the Wildcats (0-1) scored three touchdowns on just 10 offensive plays. In the next 22:32 of game time, Washington allowed Blanchester just 14 yards of offense and two first downs.
Aug. 24, 2018
@Blanchester High School
Washington 58, Blanchester 42
B – Brayden Sipple 70-yard pass to Clayton Schirmer (Jasper Damewood kick) 11:09
B – Sipple 60-yard pass to Schirmer (Damewood kick) 7:53
W – Gio Thomas 45-yard pass to Jamie McCane (pass failed) 7:24
W – Dillon Steward 8-yard run (pass failed) 4:52
B – Sipple 70-yard pass to Derick Bowman (Damewood kick) 4:36
W – Thomas 10-yard pass to Steward (kick blocked) 3:01
W – Thomas 13-yard pass to Eli Lynch (run failed) 5:43
W – Steward 20-yard interception return (Nick Bishop kick) 3:50
W – Steward 8-yard run (Bishop kick) 7:56
W – Thomas 52-yard pass to Lynch (Bishop kick) 5:54
B – James Peters 7-yard run (Damewood kick) 1:32
W – Thomas 19-yard pass to Steward (kick failed) 0.0
B – Peters 15-yard run (Peters run) 8:57
W – Thomas 10-yard pass to Rishaun Burns (Bishop kick) 5:51
B – Peters 1-yard run (run failed) 3:55
PLAYS: W 65; B 57. FIRST DOWNS: W 19; B 18. RUSHES-YARDS: W 32-109; B 27-94. PASSING YARDS: W 413; B 333. COMPLETIONS-ATTEMPTS-INTERCEPTIONS: W 20-33-0; B 15-30-1. TOTAL YARDS: W 522; B 427. PENALTIES-YARDS: W 12-118; B 3-28. FUMBLES-LOST: W 1-0; B 3-2.
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bymattsexton.