Falcons dominate Eagles in district showdown

Central's Shane Watson breaks through the middle of a group of Clarke County tacklers during first quarter action Friday night in Berryville. Rich Cooley/Daily

BERRYVILLE — Dominant.

That’s the best way to describe how Central’s offensive line played against Clarke County’s defensive line on Friday.

Central’s offensive line helped the Falcons power past Clarke County in a 40-0 Bull Run District victory. Both teams entered the game undefeated.

“Our offensive line was definitely the key — without a doubt,” Central coach Mike Yew said. “So hats off to our offensive line. I thought we played well on both sides of the line. But they’re such a talented team. I know they’ve got some key injuries. But that’s to take nothing away from our kids. Our kids came out and dominated. Our kids played hard and they played hard every single snap.”

The Falcons ran for 346 yards against a stout Clarke County defensive line and controlled the game from start to finish.

Central's Kyle Clanton is brought down by Clarke County's Ben Sprouse after a big gain during first quarter action Friday night in Berryville. Rich Cooley/Daily

Central offensive lineman Declan Franklin said they knew they had a tough task facing Clarke County.

“The offensive line did a great job,” Franklin said. “We did a great job of communicating, knowing what we were doing, where we’re blocking. Not to take away from Clarke’s defensive line. They’re a bunch of hard-nosed players, great players. Linebackers coming up filling the gaps doing a great job. Just a great battle, just a great battle — really fun.”

Central’s defense forced a Clarke County punt on the opening series. The Falcons moved the ball well on the opening drive but a fumble gave the ball back to the Eagles.

Four plays later, Central’s Christian Spitler intercepted a pass by Clarke County quarterback Colby Childs at the Eagles’ 27-yard line.

Looking to take advantage of their speed, the Falcons used wide receiver Kyle Clanton at tailback behind fullback Bryan Davis several times on the next drive and it worked. Clanton scored on a 14-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead with 2:22 left in the first quarter.

Central's Bryan Davis bulls his way through a group of Clarke County tacklers on Oct. 6. Davis has been a real key on both sides of the ball to Central's 11-0 season. Rich Cooley/Daily file

“It was just a wrinkle,” Yew said. “It was just a formation wrinkle, and I told (Central starting running back) Shane (Watson) at halftime there was nothing wrong by him or (Central running back) Hunter (Mullins) either one. It was a wrinkle. I think it paid off for us. I think we caught them off guard for two series and we were able to attack them different ways and with different personnel.”

On Central’s next offensive possession it was more of the same. Clanton and fellow Central wide receiver Varsey Bright carried the ball on six of the seven plays.

Clanton scored on a 3-yard touchdown run for a 13-0 edge with 9:07 left in the first half.

“The first two rushing touchdowns there was giant gaps,” Clanton said. “I just followed the seams. And I think that got the team hype to come back out on defense and stop them.”

On the second play of the next drive, Clanton made a big play on defense. The junior intercepted another pass by Childs at the Clarke County 28-yard line.

Central's Varsey Bright puts a move on Clarke County's Jacob Weddle after receiving a pass during third quarter action Friday night. Rich Cooley/Daily

The Falcons (6-0, 1-0 Bull Run) attempted their first pass of the game on the next series, but it was still the rushing attack that dominated the Eagles.

Facing a fourth-and-5 at the Clarke County 23, Clanton ran around the left side of the line for a 9-yard gain. Three plays later, Davis scored on a 1-yard run for a 19-0 advantage.

Central’s defense came up with another turnover on the next Clarke County possession. As Childs was being sacked by Dean Woodwell he fumbled the ball and Central’s Andrew Miller recovered at the Clarke County 33-yard line.

Three plays later, Davis caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Central quarterback Zeb Dyer for a 26-0 lead with 3:49 left in the opening half.

“He did a phenomenal job,” Franklin said of Davis. “He made the holes even bigger, did a great job at fullback. He even ran some. He’s a strong player and really wanted this win. He’s never beaten Clarke so this was a big one for him.”

Central's Shane Watson finds a hole as Clarke County's Ben Sprouse waits to make a tackle during third quarter action Friday night. Rich Cooley/Daily

As strong as the offensive line looked in the victory, the defense for the Falcons was just as solid.

The Falcons allowed just 157 yards rushing to a high-powered Clarke County single-wing offense. Clarke County running back Hunter Rutherford entered Friday’s game averaging 216.7 yards per game. The Falcons held him to 129 yards on 24 carries. He had two runs of over 30 yards, but only other carry of over 10 yards.

“Their offensive line caught us off guard sometimes, but that happens,” Franklin said. “But you just got to bounce back. They had a couple big plays, but (Central defensive coordinator) coach (Rowdy) Hoover always says bend but don’t break. So we did a great job bending but not breaking.”

Nine different players had carries for the Falcons in the victory.

Clanton finished with 91 yards rushing on 11 carries, while Watson had 96 yards on 12 carries. Dyer threw for 39 yards on 3-for-5 passing and two touchdowns.

Central's Hunter Mullins finds running room as Clarke County's Bryan Wallace closes in during a game on Oct. 6.Rich Cooley/Daily

The win keeps the Falcons undefeated and puts them in even better position for the postseason.

Watson said he thinks the Falcons will continue to get even better as the season goes on.

“I feel like we have a lot coming up for us,” Watson said. “It’s going to be a good season. This was a big confidence boost. I think as each game goes up we’re just getting more and more confidence and learning how to play with each other more and more.”

Central's Kyle Clanton, top right, and Dean Woodwell, lower right, go airborne to haul down Clarke County's Kyle Baylor during fourth quarter action Friday night. Rich Cooley/Daily