HUNTINGDON - After winning its last two games by a combined 99 points, the Central High School football team finally had to break a sweat on Friday night.
The Scarlet Dragons needed Robbie Weitzel's 61-yard kickoff return on the last play of the game to make the difference this time 35.
As hard as it might be to believe, that's what qualifies as a test for the Dragons these days. Coach Dave Baker and several of his players were even saying how welcome it was.
Mirror photos by Gary M. Baranec
Huntingdon’s Jordan Shope returns a kickoff 78 yards before getting caught by kicker D.C. Helsel (99). To view more photos, go to cu.altoonamirror.com.
"Everybody was jacked that we broke the school record [with 74 points against Philipsburg-Osceola two games ago], but everyone wanted more game in it. Not just this destroying teams thing,'' Central junior Austin Conrath said. "We want more action."
"Games like this will help us more for the playoffs," Dragon junior Bradi Moore added. "Teams in the playoffs are going to make us work more."
Huntingdon made the Dragons work - it took until the middle of the third quarter before Central managed to bring the mercy rule into play. Moore had a hand in four touchdowns, Austin Cunningham threw for two and the Dragons amassed nearly 400 yards in a 48-13 Mountain League win at War Vets Field.
Central improved to 6-2 overall and wrapped up the runner-up spot in the league with a 6-1 mark. The Dragons also moved closer to securing the second seed in the upcoming District 6 Class AA playoffs.
"Huntingdon played hard. They're a developing team," Baker said of the Bearcats, who dipped to 1-8 overall and 1-6 in the league. "Our guys enjoyed this. They were playing a team that was playing hard against them and was able to do some things."
Coming off 74- and 70-point performances the last two times out, Central was denied a running clock to start the second half when Jordan Shope's second long kickoff return went 84 yards to the end zone to answer Moore's 21-yard pass to Cunningham in the last minute of the second quarter. That kept the margin at 35-7 at the intermission.
As game as the Bearcats were, Central just possessed too many weapons.
"They have the fullback, quarterback, tailback, receivers. They have it all," Huntingdon coach Mike Hudy said.
Chief among them is Moore, who did it all. Moore rushed for 102 yards on just 10 carries, he completed both of his passes for 68 yards and two scores, his only reception went for a 24-yard TD from Cunningham and he also picked off a pass.
"I like it all," Moore said, "but I like winning best of all. Winning's the main thing. It doesn't matter how we score."
Conrath added 78 yards on the ground, and Cunningham finished with 72 passing and 57 rushing.
"The line makes great holes for us to run through. It's amazing what they do. We just get all the glory," Conrath said.
The line isn't the only key element that sometimes gets missed because of Central's skill players. The Dragon defense only gave up six points and 107 yards, and that came with 6 seconds left. Central intercepted five passes and twice stopped Huntingdon drives inside the Dragon 20.
"Our defense has been playing well all year. We do get overshadowed because we score so many points, but we've been strong," linebacker Zac Emerick said.
Baker was pleased with the all-around performance.
"We needed this," Baker said.
Game notes: It was Huntingdon's senior night. ... Huntingdon lost running back Rhett Stetchock and quarterback Devon Claar to injuries; neither returned. ... Central concludes the regular season at home next Friday against Everett. Huntingdon travels to Juniata Valley the same night.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central14 21 7 6 - 48
Huntingdon 0 7 0 6 - 13
C-Conrath 1 run (Helsel kick), 10:08.
C-Hoenstine 47 pass from Moore (Helsel kick), 6:39.
C-Moore 7 run (Helsel kick), 9:54.
C-Brumbaugh 22 pass from Cunningham (Helsel kick), 5:22.
C-Cunningham 21 pass from Moore (Helsel kick),0:52.
H-Shope 84 kickoff return (Claar kick), 0:38.
C-Moore 24 pass from Cunningham (Helsel kick), 6:29.
H-H. Speck 1 run (run failed), 0:07.
C-Witzel 61 kickoff return (no attempt), 0:00.
RUSHING: Central-Moore 10-102, Conrath 6-78, Cunningham 8-57, Slick 5-39, Mock 1-(-7), Hoenstine 2-(-13). Huntingdon-Foster 7-36, Yoder 10-17, Claar 5-5, H. Speck 2-5, Bell 5-(-2).
PASSING: Central-Cunningham 4-7-0-72, Moore 2-2-0-68, Mock 0-2-0-0. Huntingdon-Claar 4-11-3-25, Foster 2-12-2-21.
RECEIVING: Central-Hoenstine 1-47, Moore 1-24, Conrath 1-11, Brumbaugh 1-22, Cunningham 1-21, Slick 1-15. Huntingdon-Foster 2-13, Kidd 2-18, Peters 1-2, H. Speck 1-10, Lauer 1-3.
INTERCEPTIONS: Central-Slick, Emerick, Kreider , Hoenstine , Moore. Huntingdon-none.