By Greg Brill -- email@example.com
WOODSTOCK -- The Central sideline was electric.
Matt Sherfey had wiggled away from another would-be Broadway tackler, hurled to an open Seth Wymer down the near sideline, and Wymer finished the run-and-catch for a 60-yard score.
There were just under 10 minutes left in Friday night's non-district football game, Central had closed the gap to 6 points, and it was up to Broadway to steal the momentum back.
Gobblers tailback Joel Phillips was ready again to rip out the collective hearts of the Falcons. On the first play from scrimmage following Central's touchdown, Phillips made his third visit to the end zone, breaking away from several tacklers and bouncing outside 71 yards for the clincher in Broadway's 31-18 non-district win.
"That was something special," Broadway first-year coach Brad Lutz said of Phillips' run. "It was a momentum thing, and I tell you what, it was big for us."
Mike Yew left the field as a losing coach for the first time this season, but the third-year Central mentor felt his team did plenty to represent itself well.
"We did a lot of great things tonight and played a good football game," Yew said. "It's probably the best we've played this year. We knew coming in that we had to stop [quarterback Adam Caplinger] and [Phillips]. They were the two playmakers. I mean, Broadway has a good all-around team, but those two kids are key. If you look at the stats, there's no doubt about what they did."
The Falcons have put a lot on the shoulders of Sherfey, and the junior kept the Falcons (2-1) competing by burning the Gobblers all over the field. Sherfey found different receivers on all three of his touchdown passes and completed 11 passes for 237 yards.
"He shows composure and he doesn't give up on his receivers," Yew said. "We wanted to establish the run -- which we did -- and open up the pass."
Central drove right down the field on the game's opening possession, going 54 yards in 10 plays to take a 6-0 lead. The Falcons ran nine straight running plays before Sherfey found Sean Semones on a curl route for a 20-yard touchdown pass with 7:03 left for a 6-0 lead.
Broadway got on the board late in the first quarter, on a 6-yard run off tackle by Kristian Moore. Phillips made the first of 4 extra points, and Broadway never trailed again.
The game would remain close the rest of the way, but it was the Gobblers hitting plenty of big plays. Caplinger, who gained 27 yards on a draw to key Broadway's opening score, had a gain of 63 yards to set up Phillips' 3-yard run with 1:55 left in the second quarter.
Caplinger accounted for well over 100 yards in both passing and rushing, throwing for 119 (on 13-of-18 passing) and rushing for 129 on 18 carries. Lutz said Caplinger, in his third year as a starter, has the ability to help the Gobblers' new triple-option attack.
Central rallied late in the first half, getting a 25-yard scoring pass from Sherfey to Colton Manich on a fade down to the right corner of the end zone with 31 seconds left in the half. The 2-point conversion run failed, and Broadway held a 14-12 lead at the break.
After a brilliant halftime performance by the James Madison University Marching Royal Dukes, which helped put one of the largest crowds ever at Central's stadium in a festive mood, Phillips was ready to give Broadway more fireworks. On the fourth play of the second half, Phillips burst up the middle 42 yards for a touchdown, sending Broadway's lead to 21-12 with 10:27 left.
On the Gobblers' next series, Phillips threw a halfback pass to a wide-open David Mehegan down the middle for a gain of 37. Broadway eventually got to the Central 6 and also got a break when what appeared to be a fumble by Caplinger instead was ruled down before the ball popped loose. The Gobblers stalled and settled for a 28-yard field goal from Phillips.
Then after Sherfey had his third scoring strike, Phillips bounced off at least four would-be tacklers for the clincher late.
"It was very deflating -- it was an emotional rollercoaster," Yew said. "We just missed about five tackles on one play. But our kids never gave up."
Phillips finished with 148 yards rushing (on just eight carries), 40 receiving yards (on four catches), 4 extra points and a field goal, for 25 points.
"I don't think he's played center yet," Lutz chuckled after being asked what else Phillips might be able to do for the Gobblers.
Broadway finished with 17 first downs, and got 324 of its 480 total yards on the ground. Broadway also did not have a turnover in its second straight win after a close season-opening loss to Liberty-Bedford.
"We took a step forward tonight," Lutz said. "Central's a good football team. We didn't do anything different. We just wanted to get better at what we do. With the young football team we have, we're trying to make ourselves better each week. If that happens, we feel like we can compete."