By Jeff Nations
WOODSTOCK -- Nothing fancy, that's the way Central seemed to approach Friday's Group A, Division 2, Eastern Section playoff game against Amelia.
The Falcons enjoyed an obvious and decided advantage on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and appeared fully content to bludgeon the Raiders with an extra-heavy dose of running back Jordan Umstead.
But leading by two touchdowns midway through the second quarter, Central flashed a bit of razzle-dazzle with a double-pass that turned into a long scoring play to help break open the game and boost the Falcons to a 41-19 victory.
Already up 14-0 thanks to a pair of Umstead (game-high 261 rushing yards) rushing touchdowns, Central (9-2) opened up the playbook a bit after Zach Herbaugh's interception of Amelia quarterback Dillon Weaver's pass to the end zone snuffed the Raiders' best scoring hope in the first half. On first down at their own 42-yard line, the Falcons struck when quarterback Hayden Bauserman threw a lateral to Travis Cooper toward the left sideline. Cooper then heaved a 54-yard bomb to 6-foot-4 tight end Kolton Poston for the touchdown.
With 1:17 left in the first half, Amelia (4-7) tried to make something happen on its ensuing possession but stalled at their own 42 and had to punt. Umstead promptly returned it 56 yards to the 10, and Bauserman needed just one play to cash in by throwing a dart over the middle to Poston in the end zone with just more than two seconds left in the half.
"Maybe I should have ran it and ran the clock out, but I'm an aggressive coach and these are aggressive kids, and I'm going to continue to coach them aggressive," Amelia coach Adam Tiller said.
Instead of a two-touchdown lead, the Falcons entered the break with a 28-0 advantage after Umstead hauled in a two-point conversion pass from Bauserman following the last touchdown.
"A lot of times, if nothing else it's momentum for your kids, but you can kind of take the wind out of the opponent's sails as well," Central coach Mike Yew said. "I thought we did that a little bit tonight at halftime when we kind of swept those two [touchdowns] in, in the last three or four minutes."
The Raiders seized a bit of momentum to start the second half when they recovered Central's fumbled on the opening kickoff, then showed off their version of the halfback option as Taylor Sale's 23-yard scoring strike to Doug Anderson capped a five-play, 31-yard drive.
"What's good for the goose is good for the gander, I guess," Yew said. "They threw it right back on us. We bit up on it, and the kid made a good throw and a good catch."
Tiller was worried he may have waited too late to call that play.
"I tell you, I was scared -- we had put it in [this] week, and when the other team goes to it first you're scared to go to it," Tiller said. "But we'd set it up with the quick passes all night."
The Falcons answered on their ensuing possession as Umstead carried eight times in a 10-play, 60-yard drive that he capped with a 6-yard touchdown run.
Amelia brought through again in the fourth on Weaver's 3-yard touchdown pass to Richard Wojno, but Central again answered with a scoring drive as Umstead picked up his fourth touchdown of the night with an 11-yard run.
Central got off to a shaky start in the first half, turning the ball over on Amelia's initial punt and then punting on its first possession. But the Falcons' offensive line was soon opening holes with regularity, and Umstead started ripping off big runs. His first touchdown, a 3-yard run in the first quarter, came after runs of 21, 17 and 10 yards. Umstead later added a 7-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
"When they outweigh you by 700 pounds up front, it's tough," Tiller said. "We just didn't have a lot of size or depth this year."
Central rushed for 294 yards and passed for 129 (423 total yards). The Raiders managed 243 total yards, led by Weaver's 143 passing yards.
For the Falcons, Poston had a big night receiving with five catches for 100 yards. Bauserman was just 5 for 11 passing for 71 yards as Central mostly kept the ball on the ground. A.J. Coleman (70 rushing yards) finished the night's scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run for the Raiders.
"Woodstock's got a chance to go a long ways," Tiller said. "If they continue to lean on people and not turn the ball over, they're going to be tough to beat. All credit to them and their coaches -- they did a great job."
With the victory, Central will host the winner of today's Strasburg/Nottoway game next week in the second round of the playoffs.
-- Sports editor Jeff Nations can be reached at (304) 465-5137 or at firstname.lastname@example.org