Falcons lose another heartbreaker to ‘Blazers

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

PENN LAIRD — For the second straight year, the Central and Spotswood football game came down to the wire.

On Friday night, the Trailblazers once again escaped with a win, this time a 21-14 non-district victory. Last year, Spotswood beat Central in double-overtime, 50-49.

“I’ve known [Central coach] Mike [Yew] since the ’80s. It’s always great seeing him,” Spotswood head coach Chris Dodson said. “The last two years these games are the kind of games that go down in history as the ones where we’ll be 70, we’ll be like [former basketball] coach [Jerry] Walters running around telling stories, and we’ll be telling stories about these two ballgames.”

The Falcons led 14-0 entering the fourth quarter, but the Trailblazers rallied to tie the game at 14-14. Spotswood got the ball at the Central 23-yard line with 2:17 left, and moved the ball to midfield on three plays.

Spotswood quarterback Zach Polglase connected with wide receiver Khalil Davis for a 50-yard touchdown with 56 seconds left in the game. Dodson said they used the same play in the first half, but Polglase was sacked that time, and they decided to try it again.

“We felt like even if we miss it the ball’s going to be thrown out of bounds, and we get another shot right there,” Dodson said. “Khalil is our go-to guy and they did a great job of double and tripling him tonight. But if we’re looking for a big play, we’re looking at No. 4.”

The Trailblazers (1-3) recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kick to seal the come-from-behind win.

Central (1-2) had many chances to score more points in both halves. The two teams combined for nine turnovers in the game.

Central scored on its first offensive play of the game. After forcing Spotswood to a three-and-out, Hank Hoover took the ball up the middle and had nothing but daylight as he ran 57 yards into the end zone. Sam Barbour ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead with 10:27 left in the opening quarter.

Central put together a long drive late in the first quarter, but stalled at the Spotswood 18.

The Falcons extended the lead in the second quarter. Central used eight plays to go 66 yards. Barbour connected with a wide open Tristan Rau for a 41-yard touchdown with 7:44 left in the first half.

“We had a lot of drives. we moved the ball and we didn’t finish the drives,” Yew said.

While the Falcons were having plenty of success on offense, the defense was doing its part as well. Spotswood was held to 79 yards in the first half.

Things changed in the second half, especially the fourth quarter.

“The defense played spectacular [in the first half],” Yew said. “And that’s going to be the frustrating part on film when they watch it, they’re going to see how great they played in the first half. And they’re going to see how great they didn’t play when they didn’t continue to do the things that we’d asked them to do. That’s part of being young, I guess.”

Spotswood’s Davis intercepted a Barbour pass and returned it to the Central 20. On the next play Polglase connected with Andrew McDaniel for a 20-yard touchdown pass with 9:23 left in the game to cut the lead to 14-6.

The momentum continued to swing the Traiblazers’ way as a fumble on the ensuing kickoff gave Spotswood the ball right back.

Spotswood needed five plays to go 18 yards and Polglase found Stanton Shull in the end zone for a 6-yard score with 7:06 left. Polglase threw the two-point conversion to McDaniel to tie the game at 14-14.

“I think the biggest key was that dadgum end zone opened up for us,” Dodson said. “When you’re 16 years old, it’s amazing you score once and the end zone starts getting bigger.”

Central had a golden opportunity on the ensuing drive. The Falcons went 46 yards to the Spotswood 16 in 11 plays, but a holding penalty moved them back. Two incomplete passes gave the ball back to Spotswood, setting up the game-winning touchdown.

It was the first win of the season for the Trailblazers, who had a few tough losses early in the season.

“The great thing about high school kids are short memories,” Dodson said. “All they’ll know for the rest of the weekend and this week is they’re winners, and we got to move forward from here.”

Central ran the ball for 227 yards and threw for 115, but couldn’t put more points on the board when it needed to. Barbour finished with 92 yards rushing, and Hoover had 95 on 20 carries.

“It’s part of the learning experience,” Yew said. “We’re going to move forward. I know it’s going to be a long weekend for the coaches and for the kids. The kids are upset, they’re hurt and they should be, it means they care. We’re going to come back Monday. We’re going to watch film on Sunday night like we usually do and get ready for George Mason next Friday.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd