Falcons fall in shootout to Eagles

Central's Alonzo Charity breaks out for a first quarter touchdown run as East Rockingham's Dorian Hardbarger misses the tackle during the Region 2A East quarterfinals Friday night in Elkton. Rich Cooley/Daily

ELKTON — Central hung tough with East Rockingham on Friday night, but just couldn’t make enough plays to advance in the playoffs.

East Rockingham quarterback Jaylen McNair threw eight touchdown passes to lead the Eagles to a 59-42 victory over Central in the Region 2A East football playoff quarterfinals.

“I’m happy with how we played on offense,” Central coach Mike Yew said. “I’m happy with how we did things defensively right. We knew it was a challenge to stop them. They throw the ball extremely well. They’ve got very talented kids. There’s probably two plays in that game that if we make the play maybe it’s a different ball game.”

One of those plays came in the fourth quarter. Central had cut the lead to 38-30 and had the momentum. East Rockingham faced a fourth-and-4 from the Central 42.

McNair used his legs instead of his arm and ran for 8 yards to pick up the first down.

Central's Marshall McAboy looks for running room as an East Rockingham defender looks to make the tackle during the Region 2A East quarterfinals Friday night in Elkton. Rich Cooley/Daily

“If we would have made that stop, it could have got interesting,” Yew said. “We didn’t make the stop and they did made the play and that was the ballgame.”

On the next play McNair connected with Griffin Morris for a 24-yard touchdown pass to take a 45-30 lead with 8:29 left in the game.

McNair finished the game with 485 passing yards on 35-for-51 passing and eight touchdowns. He also had 73 yards rushing on 11 carries.

“I don’t know what else I could say about him,” East Rockingham coach Donnie Coleman said about McNair. “He’s a special person and we built the whole offense around our talents. And to do that against a good football team — that was incredible.”

The Falcons made it close in the second half, after trailing by 17 at the half. Central used eight rushing plays to score on the first drive of the second half.

Central's Alonzo Charity breaks out for a touchdown run as East Rockingham's Dorian Hardbarger misses the tackle during the Region 2A East quarterfinals Friday night in Elkton. Rich Cooley/Daily

Central’s Marshall McAboy, who finished with 165 yards rushing, scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 31-21 with 9:11 left in the third quarter.

The Eagles came right back with a 10-play drive, culminating with a McNair 23-yard touchdown pass to Logan Comer for a 38-21 lead with 5:04 left in the third.

Central was able to get a safety with 1:53 left in the third quarter, when Central’s Nick Houghton tackled East Rockingham’s Chandler Breeden in the end zone.

The Falcons then scored on the ensuing possession on a 25-yard touchdown run by McAboy with 11:51 left.

Coleman said he was happy with how his team responded to some adversity in the fourth quarter.

Central's Zeb Dyer scrambles in the backfield during first quarter action Friday night against East Rockingham in Elkton. Rich Cooley/Daily

“Nobody ever panicked. Nobody hit the panic button,” Coleman said. “We just kept doing what we do. We’ve got some special players there on offense. I’ve been doing this a long time and I haven’t seen anything like that. We let them do their jobs, and they did a pretty good job.”

Central (9-3) had a chance early in the game as East Rockingham fumbled the opening kickoff and Central’s Dravon Bowman recovered it at the East Rockingham 36.

The Falcons drove to the East Rockingham 2-yard line, but were stopped on fourth-and-goal giving the ball back to the Eagles.

“The first drive of the game was probably huge,” Yew said. “Right call, wrong call, don’t know. We’ve converted a lot of fourth downs on plays like that all year.”

East Rockingham (9-3) used 10 plays to score on the next drive. McNair threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Chris Rogers with 5:30 left in the first quarter.

The Falcons were forced to punt on their next possession, but a fumble on the punt gave Central the ball right back at midfield.

The Falcons used four plays to tie the game. Central’s Alonzo Charity ran the ball out of the wildcat formation and went 45 yards, weaving in and out of tacklers to tie the game at 7-7 with 1:05 left in the opening quarter.

The Eagles responded with a seven-play, 64-yard drive. McNair connected with Rogers for a 19-yard touchdown pass to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead with 10:37 left in the first half.

Central’s Kyle Clanton tied the game with a 79 yard return on the ensuing kickoff with 10:24 left in the first half.

The Eagles took the lead for good on their next drive. East Rockingham went 5 yards on 10 plays. McNair threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Javon Butler with 7:30 left in the first half.

After forcing a three-and-out, East Rockingham stretched the lead to 28-14 with a seven-play, 61-yard drive. McNair threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Butler with 2:58 left in the first half.

East Rockingham added a field goal in the final seconds of the half, after Central quarterback Zeb Dyer threw an interception at midfield.

The Falcons were playing without senior running back/defensive back Carston Shockey. Yew said Shockey has been battling pneumonia and bronchitis and has been in and out of the hospital during the week.

Yew said he was still very happy with the season the Falcons had.

“How can you not be (happy),” Yew said. “We were 9-3, co-Bull Run District champions. We lost to a very good football team. We got a good group of seniors, had a great senior year and a lot to be proud of. I’m proud of my coaches and my players. I thought we had a very good season.”

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

Eagles 59, Falcons 42
Central 7 7 9 19–42
East Rockingham 7 24 7 21–59
First quarter
ER:Rogers 5 pass from McNair (Comer kick), 5:30
C: Charity 45 run (Croom kick), 1:05
Second quarter
ER: Rogers 19 pass from McNair (Comer kick), 10:37
C: Clanton 79 kick return (Croom kick), 10:24
ER: Butler 4 pass from McNair (Comer kick), 7:30
ER: Butler 12 pass from McNair (Comer kick), 2:58
ER: Comer 36 FG, :00
Third quarter
C: McAboy 3 run (Croom kick), 9:11
ER: Comer 23 pass from McNair (Comer kick), 5:04
C: Safety, Breeden tackled in end zone, 1:53
Fourth quarter
C: McAboy 25 run (Croom kick), 11:51
ER: Moris 24 pass from McNair (Comer kick), 8:29
C: McAboy 42 run (Pass failed), 7:25
ER: Butler 80 pass from McNair (Comer kick), 7:13
ER: Comer 5 pass from McNair (Comer kick), 2:14
C: Clanton 85 run (Pass failed), 1:29
First downs 15 28
Rushes-yards 39-336 23-104
Passing yards 31 485
Passing 3-6-0-2 35-51-8-0
Penalties-yards 6-48 4-30
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-2
Punts-Avg. 3-33.0
RUSHING: Central, McAboy 20-165, Watson 5-21, Dyer 2-(-10), Abrams 2-7, Charity 7-56, Clanton 3-92. East Rockingham, McNair 11-73, Evans 4-0, Kisamore 4-13, Breeden 2-0, Armentrout 4-7.
PASSING: Central, Dyer 3-6-31-0-2. East Rockingham, 35-51-485-8-0.
RECEIVING: Central, Clanton 3-31. East Rockingham, Butler 6-147, Rogers 7-91, Comer 13-149, Armentrout 2-17, Kisamore 2-16, Morris 4-58.