Falcons top Eagles in overtime thriller

Central's Alex Sibert hauls down Clarke County's Hunter Rogers for no gain on a first quarter rushing play Friday night in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Central High School football coach Mike Yew said the Falcons’ coaching staff has spent the last two weeks selling hard the importance of discipline and physicality to its players. Last week the Falcons lacked that discipline in a loss on the road. On Friday night at home against Clarke County, they put both aspects together.

Central stood tall against the 2015 Group 2A state runner-up and matched the Eagles’ physicality all the way until Falcons senior running back Carston Shockey plowed just across the goal line in overtime for the game-winning 2-point conversion, sending the Falcons to a thrilling 22-21 victory in the Bull Run District opener for both teams.

“I just really think when it was all said and done, I told our kids I think that was probably the most physical game I’ve seen us play in a long time, maybe if not in the whole 10 years I’ve been here,” Yew said.

Central (3-1), which had held Clarke County’s (2-2) powerful single-wing offense in check for most of the night, elected to play defense on the first overtime series with the score tied 14-14. The Eagles were in the end zone three plays later on a 9-yard run by senior Hunter Rogers that put Clarke up 21-14.

Starting at the 10-yard line, the Falcons reached the 2 after one play – a 6-yard run by Shockey extended due to a defensive facemask penalty – before losing yardage back to the 5 on three straight handoffs to their senior tailback.

Central quarterback Zeb Dyer rolls out to make a pass as Clarke County's Bryan Wallace pursues during the first quarter of Friday night's game in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Needing a touchdown on fourth down, Falcons sophomore quarterback Zeb Dyer took the shotgun snap and faked a roll to his right before drifting back to his left. Under pressure, the left-hander then lofted a pass to his left as Andrew Miller raced across the back of the end zone, and the junior tight end made a sliding grab to pull Central within a point.

“At first I didn’t think it was gonna make it there,” said Dyer, who completed all six of his pass attempts for 59 yards and a score in the win.

“The offensive line did really good. Once the safety came up I knew (Miller) was gonna be open.”

A roughing the passer penalty on the touchdown moved the ball to just outside the 1-yard line for Central’s extra-point attempt, cementing the decision to go for the win for Yew, who said he began to sense his defense starting to wear down.

“The penalty decided for me to go for two,” Yew said. “I would not have gone for it on the 3 (yard line).”

Central's Kyle Clanton turns the corner for a big gain against Clarke County on Sept. 23 in Woodstock. The Falcons play at East Rockingham tonight in the second round of the playoffs. Rich Cooley/Daily file

Lining up in a Power-I formation, Shockey took the handoff and followed his blockers straight up the middle for the winning carry.

“I was a little nervous but I was looking forward to it,” said Shockey, who had two rushing touchdowns in the win. “I just tried my hardest for all these guys that worked so hard this evening. I just laid it all out there on the line for everybody.

“It was pretty close,” he added of the successful 2-point conversion. “There was a guy right on the 1, so I mean it was right there. It was a good play.”

Yards were hard to come by for Central’s offense all night (the Falcons mustered just 153 total yards) but the Falcons capitalized on a pair of Clarke County fumbles, one each in each half, and didn’t turn the ball over.

In the first quarter, a high snap resulted in an Eagle fumble that was recovered by Central senior Saxon Franklin at the Clarke 43. The Falcons, using wide receiver sweeps to their advantage (Kyle Clanton had 43 yards on four carries before leaving the game with an injury in the fourth quarter), were in the end zone seven plays later when Shockey (22 carries, 39 yards) scored the first of his two 1-yard touchdown runs.

Central's Marshall McAboy hauls down Clarke County's Daniel Braithwaite for no gain on a rushing play on Sept. 23 in Woodstock. The Falcons play at Warren County at 7 tonight. Rich Cooley/Daily file

With the score tied 7-7 in the third quarter, Clarke County again botched a snap deep in their own territory, and Central senior linebacker Marshall McAboy fell on the loose ball at the Eagle 7 to set up another Shockey TD and a 14-7 Falcon lead with 2:44 left in the third quarter.

“That’s probably what gave us the game for the most part,” McAboy said of the two Clarke County turnovers. “Sometimes we have a really hard time capitalizing on mistakes by the other team and tonight we really focused on that.”

Although Rogers – an all-state running back last season – finished with 194 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries, Central limited the Eagles to 238 yards of offense.

“The main thing was containment, keeping (Rogers) on the inside and hoping our defensive line can hold up,” McAboy said. “Chop blocking was a big thing, just creating piles so they didn’t have anywhere to go and they had to cut it out. We saw a couple times Hunter had to either cut back or cut out, so that game plan seemed to work.”

Clarke County didn’t find the end zone until a five-play, 50-yard drive on its first possession of the second half, a drive that ended with Rogers’ 4-yard scoring run. Set up with another short field after a 15-yard punt late in the fourth quarter, the Eagles’ tied the game with an 11-yard pass from Patrick Cleary to James Martin with 4:32 to play. It was the Eagles’ only pass attempt of the night.

Clarke County's Hunter Rodgers runs through a hole during second quarter action Friday night against Central in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Clarke County’s defense held Central to just 2.6 yards per rush, but the stout defensive showing wasn’t enough to balance out the miscues from the offense, which also had a botched snap derail a drive into Falcon territory in the first half.

“As a school we’ve been pretty decent the last few years in football and we’ve played Clarke – occasionally we play them well but for the most part they’ve had the better of us the last several years,” Yew said. “Just a good signature win for our program. We needed that.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com

Box score

Falcons 22, Eagles 21
Clarke County 0 0 7 7 7 – 21
Central 7 0 7 0 8 – 22
First Quarter
CEN: Shockey 1 run (Croom kick), 2:32.
Third Quarter
CL: Rogers 4 run (Bahamonde kick), 7:53.
CEN: Shockey 1 run (Croom kick), 2:44.
Fourth Quarter
CL: Martin 11 pass from Cleary (Bahamonde kick), 4:32.
CL: Rogers 9 run (Bahamonde kick)
CEN: Miller 5 pass from Dyer (Shockey run)
Clarke Central
First downs 13 8
Rushes-yards 46-227 36-94
Passing yards 11 59
Comp-Att-Int 1-1-0 6-6-0
Fumbles-lost 4-2 2-0
Punts-avg. 4-29.5 6-30.2
Penalties-yards 5-33 5-31
RUSHING: Clarke County, Rogers 30-194, Braithwaite 8-11, Davis 1-2, Baylor 4-6, Cleary 3-24; Central, Shockey 22-39, Clanton 4-43, Charity 4-17, McAboy 2-2, Dyer 2-4.
PASSING: Clarke County, Cleary 1-1-11-1-0; Central, Dyer 6-6-59-1-0.
RECEIVING: Clarke County, Martin 1-11; Central, Clanton 3-26, Charity 1-19, Houghton 1-9, Miller 1-5.