HUNTINGDON - Think of Central's Lucas Runk and you think of a talented athlete running with the ball, passing sometimes and playing lockdown defense from his cornerback position.
Better add catching passes to that list.
Runk made two acrobatic, leaping catches of Derek Nothstein passes against Huntingdon, including one on a 59-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown that started a 21-point second-quarter outburst in the Scarlet Dragons' 21-7 win on a marathon homecoming at Huntingdon's War Vets Field.
Central coach A.J. Hoenstine discusses the Scarlet Dragons' win
"My hands were working good today," Runk said, "so we just kept with it. It turned out to be good for us. We do it all in practice. Everyone plays a lot of places. We try to make teams wonder what we're going to do next, and I think we're doing a good job with that."
"Sometimes we tell Derek, 'Just throw it up and give him a chance,'" Central coach A.J. Hoenstine said. "We're pretty confident that Lucas will come down with it."
Neither team could muster any points in the first quarter. The Dragons (4-4) drove to the Bearcat 5 late in the quarter, but the drive ended with a Tyler Gibboney intercepting Nothstein at the 5 on fourth-and-goal.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Central’s Lucas Runk (right) catches a pass over Huntingdon’s Houston Riley.
But the Dragons, who held the Bearcats (5-3) to three first downs and 72 total yards in the first half, stopped running back Houston Riley for no gain on third-and-1 at the Huntingdon 14.
After Nothstein was thrown for a 4-yard loss, he threw a high pass over defender Riley that Runk, who had four receptions for 115 yards, went up for and caught, and then he motored the rest of the way for the touchdown.
"It was a perfect ball by Derek," Runk said. "I don't think it could have been placed better."
"It's very tough [to defend] him," Huntingdon coach Jim Zauzig said. "I call him the best player in the league."
On the first play of the next series, Central's Zach Lingenfelter sacked Bearcat QB John O'Korn, who fumbled, and the Dragons recovered at the Bearcat 22.
Three plays later, the 6-foot-1, 208-pound Nothstein scored from the 2. On the two-point conversion, Nothstein rolled left, turned back toward the middle of the field and hit Luke Blattenberger in the end zone.
On the next Central series, Runk made another leaping catch that resulted in a 38-yard gain to the Huntingdon 16. From there, the Dragons grinded it out, and Nothstein sneaked into the end zone from the 1 with 1:52 left in the quarter.
The Bearcats scored on their first possession of the second half as O'Korn, who completed 15 of his 32 passes for 146 yards, hit Jeremy Posey on a 1-yard touchdown pass.
"They made a game of it in the second half," Hoenstine said, "but I thought our defense played fantastic tonight and played with a lot of heart."
Runk held Posey in check for most of the game. The Bearcats threw to his side a lot, and Runk responded by breaking up a lot of passes.
"We had him going with their best receiver, Posey, all night, so that's what we expected," Hoenstine said. "I thought he did a pretty good job overall."
The Bearcats held the Dragons scoreless in the second half. Central's best shot came when Runk made an amazing juke-filled 34-yard run to the 1. But the Bearcats made a stand, stopping Nothstein twice for no gain and Blattenberger twice for no gain.
But the second quarter and Runk's performance made that stand only a sidenote in an impressive win.
"We knew we had to come out and win this game," Runk said. "If we don't win, we might not make the playoffs."
Game notes: Sophia Kistler was named homecoming queen, while Jacob Barnish was named the king. ... Runk's punting started with an 8-yard shank, but he added a 50-yard beauty later. ... Central senior Adam Kreider injured his ankle in the second half.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central0 21 0 0 - 21
Huntingdon0 0 7 0 - 7
C-Runk 59 pass from Nothstein (kick failed), 10:13.
C-Nothstein 2 run (Blattenberger pass from Nothstein), 9:11.
C-Nothstein 1 run (Mueller kick), 1:52.
H-Posey 1 pass from O'Korn (Gibboney kick), 4:27.
RUSHING: Central-Nothstein 18-87, Runk 11-55, Keefer 2-19, A. Kreider 2-5. Huntingdon-Gutshall 10-35, O'Korn 12-24, Blattenberg 6-13, Riley 7-11.
PASSING: Central-Nothstein 8-16-1-140, Runk 0-1-0-0. Huntingdon-O'Korn 15-32-1-146.
RECEIVING: Central-Runk 4-115, Smith 1-13, Keefer 3-12. Huntingdon-Bennett 5-62, Posey 4-38, Plantt 1-19, Riley 2-16, Gutshall 2-6, Mauck 1-5.
INTERCEPTIONS: Central-Keefer. Huntingdon-Gibboney.