ROARING SPRING - Central coach Dave Baker wasn't sure if senior night pre-game activities had anything to do with the Scarlet Dragons' sluggish first-half performance against Everett on Friday night.
"Whoever knows?" Baker answered when it was suggested the Central players may not have been ready for the start of the game.
"It's different," Baker said of senior night, "but they [Everett] played good. They came out and played hard. They tackled us and ran the ball and played pretty good.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Central’s Bradi Moore scores on a 3-yard run during the Dragons’ 21-7 win over Everett.
"You've got to hand it to them. They came out here and played good ball."
Whatever the reason, the Dragons were stunned by a 96-yard touchdown run by Everett's Barkley Rhoat midway through the first quarter.
Central took advantage of a 10-yard Everett punt to punch over a score early in the second period, but the Dragons had to settle for a 7-7 tie at intermission.
Baker obviously made his point at halftime because the Dragons dominated the second half and posted a 21-7 win, completing an 8-2 regular season and locking up the third seed in the District 6 Class AA playoffs. Central will host sixth-seed Forest Hills next Saturday.
Everett, now 5-5, plays Chestnut Ridge (5-5) next Friday at Northern Bedford for the District 5-AA championship.
Central took the second-half kick and marched 77 yards in nine plays with Bradi Moore getting the score on a 3-yard burst around the left side. D.C. Helsel's PAT gave the Dragons a 14-7 advantage at the 7:58 mark.
"We started running inside and blocking a little better," Baker said. "Moore ran hard the second half."
After an Everett punt, the Dragons put together another long drive - this one for 76 yards on 14 plays. Fullback Todd Slick bulled his way into the end zone for the TD from three yards out to cap a seven-minute drive that sealed the game.
"Slick had a good touchdown run," Baker noted. "We played much better the second half, but you want to be more consistent than we were tonight."
The Dragons' defense kept the Warriors on their own side of the 50-yard line most of the night and held the visitors to only 141 yards of offense, including the early 96-yard scamper by Rhoat.
"We never gained field position," Everett coach Mark Kirk said. "We were behind the chains a lot, but I'm real proud of my kids because they played really, really hard."
After playing Central toe-to-toe the first half, Everett was unable to get anything going after intermission. In fact, the Warriors had only three possessions in the second half, and went 3-and-out all three times.
"That's a good team," Kirk said of Central. "They do a lot of good things, and have some quality kids."
Game notes: Baker said Central fullback Austin Conrath was hurt in pre-game warmups and was held out of the game. ... "Other than that, we're in pretty good shape," Baker noted. ... A brief fireworks display helped welcome the Dragons onto the field before kickoff. ... Two marines, Sgt. Robert A. Howell and Pfc. Jomar Deterline, a 2010 Central graduate, participated in the pre-game coin toss.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Everett7 0 0 0 - 7
Central0 7 7 7 - 21
E-Rhoat 96 run (Droz kick), 6:35.
C-Moore 4 run (Helsel kick), 10:03.
C-Moore 3 run (Helsel kick), 7:58.
C-Slick 3 run (Helsel kick), 10:54.
RUSHING: Everett-Rhoat 15-112, Droz 4-10, Ritchey 2-6, McInroy 3-5, Karns 1-(-2) TEAM 1-(-24). Central-Moore 25-133, Cunningham 14-48, Slick 6-9.
PASSING: Everett-McInroy 2-4-0-34. Central-Cunningham 10-14-0-121, Moore 0-2-1-0, Mock 0-1-1-0, Brumbaugh 0-1-1-0.
RECEIVING: Everett-Donelson 1-32, Jays 1-2. Central-Frederick 3-32, Brumbaugh 3-26, Slick 2-21, Moore 1-38, Emerick 1-4.
INTERCEPTIONS: Everett-Sheaffer, Karns 2.