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| 16

Down to the wire

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Central's Jordan Umstead is held up by Strasburg's Joe Giallonardo during Friday night's playoff game in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Central's Zachary Herbaugh hauls in a pass during second half action Friday night against Strasburg in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Strasburg quarterback Troy Gordon scrambles past Central defender Caleb Cook on Friday night. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Strasburg quarterback Troy Gordon runs to the outside on his way to score a touchdown against Central on Friday night. Rich Cooley/Daily


By Tommy Keeler Jr.

WOODSTOCK -- Jordan Umstead got his redemption.

The Central senior found himself in a situation similar to last year, when he had a chance to win a game against Strasburg with a field goal. Last year, he missed it wide left, but on Friday with the season on the line, he nailed a 19-yard field goal to give Central a 25-22 overtime win over the Rams.

"It was really sweet for Jordan [Umstead] to make that field goal, especially with how the game went last year down at their place, with him missing that one," Central coach Mike Yew said. "He did a great job."

Yew admitted he was a little nervous, considering Umstead has had a few misses in his career with overkicking it and missing it wide.

"He's got an extremely strong leg and when he overkicks he tends to pull it," Yew said. "We talk all the time about, 'Don't pull it, don't pull it, drive through.' He drove through on that one and hit it well."

The field goal, which came after a Strasburg fumble on its first possession, capped off a strong second-half comeback by the Falcons, who trailed 22-6 after the first half.

The Falcons used their big offensive line and drove down the field on their first two possessions of the second half to erase the deficit.

On the first drive, Central went 54 yards on 12 plays. They ran the ball on all but three plays, and the drive was capped off by a 4-yard yard run by Umstead and a two-point conversion pass from Hayden Bauserman to Zach Herbaugh.

"Their offensive line and defensive line, we felt, really beat us up in the first half," Yew said. "We challenged our kids at halftime and told them this team took it to you, you can either let them continue to take it to you or you can respond. And I think our kids responded pretty well up front."

The Rams were able to put a drive together on the ensuing possession, but it stalled at the Central 30. On fourth-and-5 at the Central 30-yard line, Strasburg quarterback Troy Gordon was sacked by Central's Justin Bauserman to give the ball back to the Falcons.

It took Central only seven plays to move 57 yards for the game-tying score. Umstead had a run of 16 yards to help set up a 31-yard touchdown pass from Hayden Bauserman to Sam Cornman with 10:03 left in regulation. Justin Bauserman ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game 22-22.

"I think [Central] played with more intensity up front in the second half," Strasburg coach Mark Roller said.

The Rams again drove the ball to the Central 30, but Gordon fumbled the ball on a running play and Central recovered with 6:43 left in regulation. The Falcons put another strong drive together, but Strasburg's Tommy Caison intercepted a Hayden Bauserman pass with 1:36 left in regulation and the two teams headed to overtime.

Strasburg had the ball first in overtime, and on the first play Rakwon White fumbled the ball and Central was able to recover to end the possession.

Central was able to get eight yards on three carries by Umstead, before the senior kicker made the field goal.

"The difference in the game was just the turnovers in the second half," Roller said. "Those things are going to happen. It's just football. The kids played their hearts out."

Strasburg seemed in total control in the first half. White, who finished with 170 yards on 26 carries, ran 59 yards down the left sidelines for a touchdown less than a minute into the game to give Strasburg an 8-0 lead. Outside of the opening touchdown, White didn't have a run over 10 yards the rest of the game.

"That was very frustrating that first series, giving up that long run," Yew said. "But our kids, they certainly buckled down. We begged our defensive backs to stay home, stay wide, force him out, do whatever they had to do and they did that in the second half."

The Falcons responded with a 12-play, 58-yard drive, capped off by an Umstead 2-yard run to cut the lead to 8-6 with 5:04 left in the first quarter.

Gordon extended the lead with a 12-yard touchdown run by Gordon and a 7-yard TD run by White for a 22-6 halftime lead.

It was the second meeting between the two teams in the last three weeks, the Falcons won two weeks ago, 25-20, to end the regular season.

The Rams' season finishes at 10-2, with both losses coming to Central. Despite the loss, Roller was happy with the season and the way his players played.

"I'm proud of what our kids did this season," Roller said. "They did a tremendous job this year. For the seniors, my heart really goes out to them."

The Falcons (10-2) will play at Essex next weekend, and will be one of the last eight teams in the Group A, Division 2 playoffs. Yew said he will now have to change his plans for Thanksgiving, and he's happy to do so.

"I told out kids two weeks ago I wanted to be playing come Thanksgiving," Yew said. "We've never done that. And I won't be going to Pennsylvania with my wife for Thanksgiving, I'll be staying here and getting ready for our football game."

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com



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