Defense, run game earn Central win
WOODSTOCK – Most nights, the Central High School football team’s run game is strong enough to stand alone, but when the opposition hands the ball back to the Falcons on four turnovers, the partial Bull Run District champion is hard to beat.
Such was the situation Friday night as the Falcons’ (9-2) defense and run game put up a 45-26 victory on visiting Blue Stone in the first round of the VHSL Group 2A East regionals.
The Falcons, seeded fifth, will face fourth-ranked East Rockingham next weel in Elkton in the second round.
Central’s playoff victory, which was only marred by a couple of late Bluestone touchdowns, was the first such since 2013 when the Falcons felled Thomas Jefferson and Poquoson in the postseason.
“It’s been a couple of years and it feels good,” said Central all-around player Alonzo Charity, who rushed, caught passes, scored a key fumble recovery and came up with a pass breakup.
It was Charity’s fumble recovery in the first half which thwarted a serious drive by the visitors and propelled the Falcons, who won for the seventh time in their last four games.
“Honestly, it was just a great overall job by our defense, which made plays to get the ball into the offense’s hands and then the offense did a good job too,” said Central running back Carston Shockey.
Shockey rushed 22 times for 202 yards and three touchdowns but there were other notable efforts as well.
Shockey and Charity (a touchdown reception) joined quarterback Zeb Dyer, who passed for two scores, Marshall McAboy, who carried for a score and tight end Andrew Miller, who also had a touchdown pass reception.
But the two interceptions and two fumble recoveries on the part of the Falcons over the Barons (5-6) hammered home the victory
“They’re a good offensive team. They show good balance, but when you hand them the ball back on turnovers, and make mistakes on special teams, this is what you get,” said Bluestone coach Jesse Chropka.
Charity’s key fumble recovery in the first quarter failed to lead directly to a score, but it halted the Barons, who had driven to the Falcon 29, trailing 7-0.
“It was a key point at the time. The offense just had to come through,” Charity said.
Indeed it did. The Falcons, who were averaging about 250 yards on the ground per game in their first 10, pushed 283 yards. So, sprinkle in a few key passes by Dyer and the visitors’ inability to hold onto the ball and it was a recipe for success for a team that finished its home season with the easy victory.
Coach Mike Yew’s offense uses various sets to run a simple list of plays. But the plays do not work unless the blocking is precise, and that it was on this first playoff night in Virginia.
The Falcons scored on their first possession of the game then made two defensive plays on the way to take a 21-0 lead at intermission.
Shockey carried on eight of nine chances for 68 yards as the Falcons took the ball for the first score the first time they possessed it.
Shockey went over from the 17 for the initial touchdown of the night and senior Clifton Croom connected on the first of 6 extra points. Central led 7-0 with 9:03 to go.
Croom, a senior, also kicked a 37-yard field goal in the second half to give him 9 points on the night.
The second Falcon score came after Christian Spitler intercepted Baron quarterback Tevarius Brooks, who dropped back on fourth down and faked a punt attempt. Spitler stepped in front of the Bluestone receiver for the turnover in visitor territory.
On the next play, Central quarterback Dyer went to Charity for a 28-yard touchdown pass with 2:01 to go in the first quarter. The kick handed the Falcons a 14-0 lead.
Charity earlier recovered a Bluestone fumble, though his team failed to convert. It mattered little.
Bluestone retrieved the ball and was driving on Central as the first quarter came to the end and the second period began.
The Barons pushed from their own 20 to the Falcon 25 when Central defensive lineman Alex Sibert sacked Brooks for a 10-yard loss.
The Falcons took advantage of the defensive play by moving 81 yards for their third touchdown of the contest.
Shane Watson (five carries for 43 yards) was the leading ground gainer for Central, but it was Shockey who carried 23 yards around left tackle for his second touchdown at the 3:32 mark of the first half. The kick made it 21-0.
“Coach Yew likes to give it to the guy who runs well, but it really doesn’t matter because so many of our backs can make yardage,” said Shockey.
Bluestone took possession in the second half, but Kyle Clanton picked off a Brooks pass.
Still, the Barons refused to be denied. Nyier Evans took a Falcon punt and raced 75 yards the other way for Bluestone’s first points of the night. The 2-point conversion was halted. Central led 21-6 with 8:41 left in the third period.
The special teams breakdown served to spur Central offense. Clanton gave his team excellent field position at the Bluestone 18 with a punt return of his own.
From there Shockey carried up the middle for an 18-yard touchdown which, with the point-after kick, made it 28-6 with 7:40 showing in the third period.
Shockey’s touchdown was the first of three consecutive Falcon 6-pointers, which were sandwiched around the Barons’ first offensive score of the night.
Ernest Garner lost a fumble which was recovered by Falcon defensive lineman Jon Riggs to put in motion Central’s seventh touchdown of the night.
This was a 6-yard pass from Dyer to Miller. The extra point was good and Central held a 35-6 advantage with 3:32 remaining in the third frame.
A fourth-down pass worked for Bluestone, which ushered in the second Baron offensive score.
On fourth and long, Baron quarterback Brooks hit Evans for a pass which carried to the Bluestone 46. After peppering the Falcon defense with tosses to Cedric Taylor (four receptions, 50 yards), the quarterback called his own number. He bulled his way across the goal line. Even though the conversion was halted, the score was 35-12 with 20.4 seconds left in the third quarter.
But Central responded with McAboy’s touchdown run and the 3-pointer by Croom, his second of the season. The field goal made the score 45-12 with 7:02 remaining in the game.
Visiting quarterback Brooks caught Central’s defense flat-footed when he found Evans in the flat. The senior wide receiver did the rest as he raced 60 yards for Bluestone’s next score. The kick was good for a 45-19 Central lead with 5:04 left in the game.
The Falcons were just trying to run out the clock when backup quarterback Kelan Hoover, a freshman, was separated from the ball. Baron Anthony Pettus carried it 58 yards for the final score of the night. The conversion failed.
“Good job by the defense, good job by the offense, good all-around game,” said Yew.
Contact Jim Laise at email@example.com
Falcons 45, Barons 26
Central 14 7 14 10–45
Bluestone 0 0 12 14–26
CHS: Shockey 17 run (Croom kick) 7:03
CHS: Charity 28 pass from Dyer (Croom kick) 2:01
CHS: Shockey 23 run (Croom kick) 3:32
BHS: Evans 75 punt return (conversion failed) 8:41
CHS: Shockey 18 run (Croom kick) 7:46
CHS: Miller 6 pass from Dyer (Croom kick) 3:32
BHS: Brooks 5 run (conversion failed) 20.4
CHS: McAboy 25 run (Croom kick) 11:18
CHS: Croom 37 field goal 7:02
BHS: Evans 60 pass from Brooks (kick good) 5:04
BHS: Pettus 58 interception (conversion failed) 1:14
First downs 15-12
Rushing yards 283-81
Passing yards 36-192
Comp-Att-Int 4-7-0 9-24-2
Fumbles-lost 0-0 5-2
Penalties 3-25 5-35
RUSHING-CHS: Clanton 1-10, Dyer 3-(-11), McAboy 2-32, Shockey 22-202, Watson 11-47, Mullins 1-3, Charity 6-60, Hoover 2-2. BHS: Brooks 9-43, Hector 2-1, Coleman 3-7, Garner 5-21, Pettus 7-9
PASSING-CHS: Dyer 4-7-36, 2 touchdowns. BHS: Brooks: 9-24-2, 192, 1 touchdown.
RECEIVING: CHS: 2-31, Shockey 1-2, Miller 1-6. BHS: Evans 3-70; Taylor 4-50