By Jeremy Stafford
FALLS CHURCH -- Central coach Mike Yew has a theory pertaining to punt returns: Once the ball takes its first bounce, players tend to let up.
And in the first quarter of Central's football game at George Mason on Friday night, Yew's theory proved true.
The Mustangs' second drive of the night stalled on their own 32-yard-line, and they punted to Falcons junior punt returner Daniel Bauserman. The punt took a short hop, and Yew called for Bauserman to take it on the bounce -- and he did.
What once was a sliver of an opening soon became a gaping hole, thanks to a block by senior Logan Hutchinson. Bauserman took advantage, sprinting to the end zone on a 68-yard return.
It was the first score of the night in what eventually blossomed into a 28-14 Central win.
"Logan Hutchinson had a perfect block at the perfect time, and after that it was just straight green," Bauserman said. "It was just a click in my mind I had a great opportunity to get in the end zone."
The win was Central's second of the season, and with its bye week looming, Yew said the impact of Friday night's win extends beyond the Falcons' record.
"It just makes the kids, obviously, come in a little more refreshed and excited Monday afternoon for practice," Yew said. "It's an opportunity just to get healthy -- that's the biggest thing, we got a couple kids nicked up right now, so we're looking to get healthy."
But something else has had a lasting effect on Central's season: its non-district schedule.
Central opened its season with a much improved Manassas Park team, followed by an always-strong Broadway squad, followed by a game against an undefeated Clarke County team.
Though their 2-3 record may not indicate it, the Falcons are primed to start the Shenandoah District portion of their schedule.
"It's good and bad," Falcons quarterback Matt Sherfey said of Central's tough early schedule. "The good part is it prepares you for the second half of the season, it makes you a better team. The bad part is you have to catch up.
"We're dealing with the cards we got dealt, and we just gotta move on, take it one game at a time, and make it all work."
Friday night was a prime example of Central's improvement over the course of this season.
The Falcons' offense was probably as balanced as it's been all season. Sherfey passed for 107 yards on only 17 passes, tailback Seth Bauserman rushed for 33 yards on eight carries, and Tyler Pattie had 13 carries for 62 yards.
And then there was the special teams.
In addition to Daniel Bauserman's touchdown return, punter Seth Wymer fumbled a snap in the fourth quarter, picked it back up, and rushed 23 yards for a first down.
Wymer's run not only allowed Central to close out the game, but it also kept the ball away from the George Mason offense, whose running game had been picking up steam.
"They say it all the time," Daniel Bauserman said. "Special teams wins games, and that set the spark to win the game."