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Pressure points: Wildcats bring heat to ground Falcons

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Central quarterback Hayden Bauserman is hit by Warren County’s Timothy Green as he gets ready to pass during Monday’s game in Front Royal. Andrew Thayer/Daily

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Warren County’s Matthew Nicholson runs back an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter against Central on Monday night. Andrew Thayer/Daily

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Warren County's Gage Steele looks for an opening as he runs with the ball in the game against Central in Front Royal on Monday night. Andrew Thayer/Daily

By Tommy Keeler Jr. - tkeeler@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County came into Monday's game expecting Central to be a pass-oriented team. The Wildcats knew they would have to be ready to stop the passing attack, and they did.

The Wildcats had three interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns, in a 35-6 nondistrict victory over the Falcons. The game was moved from Friday to Monday due to poor field conditions last week.

"We knew they were a passing team," Warren County senior Gage Steele said. "We knew we had to lock down on that on defense."

The Falcons (0-3) had a solid drive going to start the game. Central moved the ball to the Warren County 37-yard line on nine plays, including four pass completions. Facing a fourth-and-14 from the Wildcats 37, Central sophomore quarterback Hayden Bauserman had his pass picked off by Tyler Post and returned to the Warren County 41.

It didn't take long for the Wildcats to capitalize. Two plays later, Post connected with Damien Wright on a 32-yard pass play. On the next play, Steele appeared to be stopped at the line of scrimmage, but made a move and went 32 yards into the end zone to give Warren County a 7-0 lead with 6:35 left in the first quarter.

"I ran into a couple big linemen, and I just did a little spin move and had an open field ahead of me," Steele said. "It was a pretty cool play."

It took only two plays for Warren County's defense to strike again. Post intercepted his second pass of the night, this time going 38 yards for the touchdown, and giving Warren County a 14-0 lead.

"Those were my first two interceptions," Post said. "It definitely gives me confidence moving forward with the rest of the season."

On Central's next possession, sophomore running back Daniel Molina fumbled as he was hit by a Warren County defender. Warren County's Timothy Green recovered the fumble at the Central 49.

The Wildcats (2-0) made the most of the turnover, putting together a 10-play drive. Green capped off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run.

Warren County was very balanced on offense all night. The Wildcats ran for 209 yards, and threw for 61 yards. All of the passing yards came in the first half.

Post connected with Matthew Nicholson for a 29-yard touchdown with 7:14 left in the first half. Nicholson leaped over Central's Anthony Helsley in the end zone to make the catch.

"It was a great catch," Post said of the play. "He's a tall guy, and a strong guy. I just threw it up and hoped he'd make the play."

Warren County's defensive backfield made one more big play before the half was over. Nicholson intercepted Bauserman at the Central 40 and returned it for the touchdown to give the Wildcats a 35-0 lead with 1:44 left in the half.

"I think our defense played well," Warren County coach Tony Tallent said. "I think our front line and our linebackers put pressure on them tonight. And our coverage was very tight tonight."

Central's only points came on a Bauserman 21-yard pass to Brandon Carter with 31 seconds left in the third quarter. Central had only 133 yards of offense in the game.

"We have one or two good plays. We're seeing some positives," Central coach Mike Yew said. "Consistency is what kills us. We've got to be able to put together 10 or so good plays on a drive. We've got to be able to sustain our drives."

Steele led Warren County's ground attack with 80 yards rushing on only seven carries.

A fast start to the season helped the Wildcats make the playoffs last year for the first time in school history, and the team is hoping another solid start will lead to more good things.

"We have to take things one game at a time," Steele said. "Last year is in the past. We have to stay focused on right now. I'm happy with what we're doing right now."

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