Falcons rumble past Generals

By Brad Fauber

QUICKSBURG — Central head football coach Mike Yew said earlier in the week that it was likely the Falcons would throw the ball a little bit more in Friday’s game against Stonewall Jackson than they did in the opener last week.

The Falcons hit on a few big plays through the air against the Generals on Friday night, but it was the ground game that carried Central. The Falcons rushed for 207 yards while three different ball carriers scored touchdowns in Central’s 38-6 rout of their Shenandoah County rivals.

“What really helped us was our line. They stepped up really big today and helped us a lot,” said Falcons junior running back/linebacker Hank Hoover, who had a game-high 112 yards on 13 carries. “We got to run the ball, punch it in there, gain more than six or seven yards a carry. It opened up and we got the ball passed around. … Had some big plays.”

The Falcons (1-1), who struggled to establish a running game in last week’s loss to John Champe, had no such trouble against Stonewall Jackson.

Central’s first possession of the game started with a 33-yard strike from senior quarterback Sam Barbour to receiver Tristan Rau that set up the Falcons on the Generals’ 37. The Falcons then ran the ball four straight times with Hoover, who darted through big holes created by Central’s offensive line all the way to the end zone.

Hoover capped the drive with a 14-yard scoring run on third-and-2, as he hit a hole on the left side and stiff-armed a Stonewall Jackson defender at the 10 before crossing the goal line to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead with 6:15 left in the first quarter.

“We got bodies on bodies and we stayed with bodies, got helmets on helmets and really sustained our blocks better tonight than we did the first game,” Yew said.

The Generals (0-2) opened some holes for senior running back Derrick Smith (17 carries, 55 yards) on their first two drives of the game, but both possessions halted near midfield. Stonewall’s second possession ended with a fumble on a botched handoff that was recovered by Central’s Matthew Edwards at the Generals’ 43.

Hoover immediately slashed through Stonewall’s defense for runs of 18, 9 and 13 yards before sophomore Marshall McAboy (7 carries, 37 yards) scored from three yards out to give the Falcons a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Central held the Generals to a three-and-out on the ensuing possession when Hoover sacked Stonewall quarterback Nathan Miller at the Generals’ 14 and a short punt gave the Falcons excellent field position at the Stonewall 37.

The Falcons used eight plays — seven runs — to cover those 37 yards, and Jesse Cloyd’s 9-yard scoring run put Central up 21-0 with 8:24 left in the first half.

“We needed this game,” said Barbour, who had a 25-yard touchdown run called back on a holding call during the drive. “After John Champe, we really didn’t know where we were at. Everybody was kind of down, but we had a great week of practice and we needed this win. Get a couple points on the board and get everybody playing. It feels good.”

Stonewall Jackson failed to seize some momentum when a Central fumble on a punt return was covered by Generals sophomore Ryan Summers at the Falcons’ 33. Miller’s pass attempt on the next play was intercepted by Connor Hammack — who lost the fumble on the previous play — at the 6-yard line.

Central then used 13 plays to cover 85 yards over the next five minutes, and sophomore Clifton Croom hit a 28-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 24-0 lead with four seconds left in the first half.

The Falcons held Stonewall Jackson to just 39 total yards of offense in the first half. The Generals finished with 124 yards in the game, including 109 yards rushing on 40 carries.

“I thought we played really well,” Yew said of his defense. “We’re still trying to get our linebackers, they’ve got to be the toughest guys on the field. …We’re believing in our reads and we’re believing in our game plan, but we’re not stuffing that hole with a vengeance and just being a stud. But we’re going to get there. There’s not doubt about that.”

Central hit on its biggest play of the night during its second possession of the third quarter, when Barbour hooked up with Varsey Bright for a 68-yard touchdown strike.

Bright, a 5-foot-2, 102-pound freshman, finished with three catches for 81 yards.

“He got pushed to the outside. He was supposed to run a different route but he adjusted, which is well beyond his years with this being only his second varsity start. He just ran the route perfectly,” said Barbour, who was 5 of 8 for 134 yards passing.

“He made it easy for me. The kid’s quick so all I had to do was get it out there.”

Central took a 38-0 lead with 1:51 left in the third quarter when freshman Bryan Davis scooped up a Stonewall fumble and took it 55 yards untouched for the score.

Stonewall Jackson scored its first touchdown of the season with 1:33 left to play, when freshman Jake Kagey Jr. took a quick pitch to the right and scored on a 12-yard scamper.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com