By Tommy Keeler Jr. - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- Hayden Bauserman had a monster night throwing the ball, especially in the first half. The Central junior threw two touchdowns in the second quarter, but as the final seconds were winding down all he could do was watch helplessly from the sidelines.
Broadway had one final drive in the final minutes of the game to try to at least tie the Falcons, but the Gobblers came up short in a 20-14 nondistrict victory.
"I was just standing down on the other end of the sidelines by myself, and when that final ball fell incomplete I just sprinted onto the field," Bauserman said. "To beat Broadway is a great feeling."
The Falcons had a 20-14 lead at the half, with all of the points coming in the second quarter. Bauserman threw for 231 yards on 15-for-37 passing for the Falcons.
The game slowed down in the second half, with both teams having trouble getting into the end zone. There was plenty of drama on Broadway's final drive.
The Gobblers began at the Central 46 with 1:41 left in the game. After a 7-yard gain, and an incomplete pass, Broadway quarterback Dane Spitzer was called for intentional grounding. That set-up a fourth-and-24 from the Broadway 40. Spitzer completed a pass to Travis Hooven for a 34-yard gain to the Central 26.
Two plays later, the Gobblers appeared to tie the game, but an illegal man downfield call negated the score with 31 seconds left. The Falcons forced the Gobblers into a fourth-and-8 from the 24, and when Spitzer's pass fell incomplete the Falcons were able to celebrate.
"This is a great win," Central junior Kolton Poston said. "Broadway is a great team, and it just shows everybody that we're going to be one of the top teams to beat this season."
The Falcons were their own worst enemies at times, with costly penalties that either stopped drives or cost them touchdowns. However, in the second quarter the Falcons' passing game was running smoothly.
Central scored on the second play of the quarter. Bauserman connected with Travis Cooper for a 10-yard touchdown pass to take a 6-0 lead.
"That actually wasn't the designed play," Bauserman said. "Travis and I just looked at each other, and I threw it to him."
The Falcons' defense was shutting down the Gobblers in the first half, but two big plays proved costly. Spitzer connected with Dylan Moyers down the right sideline for a 49-yard gain to the Central 1. Spitzer ran it in on the next play to cut to give the Gobblers a 7-6 lead with 10:12 left in the first half.
The Falcons came right back, as Bauserman threw a touchdown pass to the 6-foot-4 Poston from nine yards out with six minutes left in the half for a 12-7 lead. Poston was able to reach over a Broadway defender to haul in the score.
"Coach Yew called the play and their kid bit on the fake," Poston said. "The [Broadway defender] was a little short, so I just jumped up and got it."
The Falcons' height gave Broadway trouble all game long with the combination of the 6-foot-1 Cooper, 6-foot-4 Poston and 6-foot-3 Zach Herbaugh.
"There were times they were doubling up Cooper and other times they were doubling Poston," Central coach Mike Yew said. "So, we tried to take advantage of that when we could."
The Gobblers used another big play to retake the lead. Spitzer threw a screen pass to Trevor Bostic for a 60-yard touchdown to give the Gobblers a 14-12 lead.
Central had another long drive stall on its next possession, which included a touchdown that was called back on a penalty. After forcing Broadway to punt, Central's Daniel Molina returned a punt 54 yards to the Broadway 1.
Central's Jordan Umstead scored on the next play, and Cooper's two-point conversion run gave the Falcons a 20-14 lead.
Central suffered a big blow on the final play of the first half, when Cooper suffered an ankle injury and did not return. Central was also playing without last year's leading tackler Justin Bauserman. Yew said he had no comment as to why Justin Bauserman was not on the sidelines.
The Falcons held Bostic, who was Broadway's top rusher last year, to 38 yards on 20 carries.
"He's a great running back," Poston said. "We just were really focused on stopping him. I think everybody really worked hard to do it."
Broadway made it to the Group AA state semifinals last year, and Yew said they still have a quality team. Yew said he hopes this is a real confidence booster for his players.
"It's been a long time since we've beat a good double-A team like this," Yew said. "I hope this win can really catapult us into great things this season. Our goal is to make the playoffs, but we'd love to have a couple playoff games, too."