SPRING MILLS - Well, that was interesting.
In a game that bordered on the ridiculous, at times, explosive offensive outbursts and big-time talent merged with unexpected play that led to an ejection and multiple taunting and deadball penalties.
Central downed Penns Valley 69-41 on Friday night at Spring Mills, winning a contest that featured a combined 27 penalties for 267 yards and several touchdowns recorded via a roundabout manner.
For Central (3-1), it wasn't where its players were on the field, it was where they were going.
In other words, nobody could stop Central senior Bradi Moore, who set a career high with six touchdowns - all in the first half: He rushed for three and caught two other scores to go along with a 99-yard punt return.
Triple-threat Austin Cunningham threw and caught a touchdown each for Central, and added a punt return for a score to open the second half.
"They're fast and they can take off and our guys block for them," Central coach Dave Baker said of Moore and Cunningham. "They can judge the ball in the air and they can go after the ball. They can see where to run and they're fast."
"Our blocking is unbelievable," Moore added. "The quarterbacks just throw it and I go get it."
With Central leading 14-7 early in the second quarter, Kaleb Weyant notched a three-yard score by bursting into the end zone on a Statue of Liberty run; taking a behind-the-back handoff from Cunningham, who faked a throw.
Central stockpiled 63 first-half points, sometimes by a fortuitous manner. Moore scored the Dragons' first touchdown after hauling in a lateral from Cunningham after the quarterback picked up 15 yards on an option keeper. As Cunningham was being tackled, he tossed the ball back toward Moore as he fell to the ground; Moore galloped the final 29 yards.
Then with less than a minute before halftime, Moore scored from 10 yards out after Cunningham appeared to have the ball knocked away on a potential reception. The ball hit the ground as Cunningham was hit immediately when the ball arrived, but the officials ruled that it was either a fumble recovery by Moore or that he picked up a lateral that hit the ground. Either way, it was another event in a bizarre game in which the first half lasted nearly two hours and saw the ejection of a Penns Valley player.
"I have never been a part of anything like this, through the good, and the bad and the ugly," Penns Valley coach Martin Tobias said. "They are an offensive juggernaut and we couldn't stop them. It didn't matter if it was special teams, it didn't matter if it was the pass game. I think that we helped to contain their run game to a certain extent, and they made plays."
Before Moore took over, Penns Valley (1-3) struck first, with senior running back Taylor Collison scoring on a 1-yard run almost midway through the first quarter.
Cameron Tobias proved efficient for the Rams, finding seven different receivers as he finished 21-of-41 for 311 yards; he also threw a pick, which Cunningham recorded.
Tobias rifled a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter, finding Sean Beamesderfer for 47 yards early in the period, and connecting with Luke Weaver on a 19-yard score with 8:09 left before halftime.
"I think that our passing game really came along," Martin Tobias said. "We knew that we were going to struggle up front running the ball and our plan was to come in and throw the ball and we had some success with it. Unfortunately, we couldn't sustain the success and match them punch-for-punch."
Cunningham finished 5-of-8 for 107 yards and a touchdown, and Noah Benton ended 8-of-9 for 194 yards and three scores for Central, which rang up 173 rushing yards on 29 carries; Moore tallied 59 yards on seven carries and Cunningham added 57 yards, also on seven tries.
"We played pretty good on offense and we moved the ball well," Baker said. "Our passing attack was good but they also moved the ball very well on us and their passing attack, we could not stop them. It wasn't like it was a romp the whole game, it wasn't. They kept coming back."
Central temporarily pulled away with two touchdowns more than midway through the second quarter. First, Cunningham reeled in a 34-yard touchdown pass from Benton with 5:01 remaining; Cunningham then connected with Mike Mock on a 45-yard strike with 3:42 left before the half.
Penns Valley briefly cut into the deficit with a Liam Benfer seven-yard rushing touchdown, but Central promptly responded with a 65-yard strike from Benton to Moore to bring the Dragon advantage to 42-28 with 36 seconds left before intermission.
It appeared that would be the halftime score, but that preceded Moore's second touchdown of the game off a lateral, which followed Tobias' interception. Central tacked on 14 additional points as Penns Valley fumbled a pair of kickoff returns in the final seconds.
The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, as Cunningham returned the opening second-half kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, and Benfer rumbled in from 11 yards out with 4:25 left in the third.
Penns Valley registered a final touchdown with 4:03 left in the game, as Tobias and Collison hooked up for a 32-yard score.
The Rams recorded the final 13 points of the game, helping to meet their second-half charge: finish the game.
"I wanted to see composure, I wanted to see them play the game hard," Martin Tobias said. "I didn't want to see any quit, and I feel good about that. I would assess it that we accomplished our goals in the second half, of coming out and playing the way we needed to."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central14 49 6 0-69
Penns Valley7 21 6 7-41
PV-T. Collison 1 run (Deardorff kick), 7:31, 7-0
C-Moore 29 run (Slagenweit kick), 6:34, 7-7
C-Moore 99-yard punt return (Slagenweit kick), 4:11, 14-7
C-Weyant 3 run (Slagenweit kick), 11:34, 21-7
PV-Beamesderfer 47 pass from Tobias (Deardorff kick), 10:21, 21-14
PV-Weaver 19 pass from Tobias (Deardorff kick), 8:09, 21-21
C-Cunningham 34 pass from Benton (Slagenweit kick), 5:01, 28-21
C-M. Mock 45 pass from Cunningham (Slagenweit kick), 3:42, 35-21
PV-Benfer 7 run (Deardorff kick), 1:53, 35-28
C-Moore 65 pass from Cunningham (Slagenweit kick), 1:25, 42-28
C-Moore 10-yard run (kick failed), 0:36, 48-28
C-Moore 1-yard run (Moore run), 0:14, 56-28
C-Moore 18 pass from Benton (Slagenweit kick), 0:02, 63-28
C-Cunningham 90 punt (kick failed), 11:44, 69-28
PV-Benfer 11 run (kick failed), 4:25, 69-34
PV-T. Collison 32 pass from Tobias (Hazel kick), 4:03, 69-41
RUSHING: Central-Moore 7-59, Cunningham 7-57, Benton 3-25, Quarello 3-7, Weyant 3-6, Emerick 2-4, Shirey 1-7, Langer 1-6, Hoenstine 1-4, B. Mock 1-(-2). Penns Valley-Sharp 4-38, Tobias 5-28, Benfer 3-20, Alexander 1-17, C. Collison 1-11, T. Collison 3-2, Hazel 3-(-2).
PASSING: Central-Benton 8-9-0-194, Cunningham 5-8-0-107. Penns Valley- Tobias 21-41-1-311.
RECEIVING: Central-Moore 4-93, Cunningham 3-74, M. Mock 2-88, Quarello 1-14, Hoenstine 1-13, Forshey 1-12, Emerick 1-7. Penns Valley-Weaver 6-60, T. Collison 5-105, Hazel 4-61, Beamesderfer 3-69, Sharp 1-13, Kozar 1-3, Benfer 1-0.