ROARING SPRING - With 1:40 remaining in the first half of Saturday night's District 6 Class AA semifinal game, Forest Hills held a 14-13 lead over homestanding Central.
However, 13 seconds later, Central standout Bradi Moore ran the ensuing kickoff back for a 75-yard touchdown, giving the Scarlet Dragons a 19-14 lead.
The second-half was all Central as the Dragons scored 29 points in the third quarter, added 14 more in the fourth and demolished Forest Hills, 62-14, to earn a date with top-seeded Richland in the 6-AA title game next Friday at Mansion Park at 7 p.m.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Central’s Bradi Moore stiff-arms Forest Hills’ Brennan Smay during Saturday night’s District 6 Class AA semifinal.
Now 10-2, Central has relied on the playmaking abilities of Moore and quarterback Austin Cunningham, and Saturday was no different as the dynamic duo raced up and down the field at will.
Moore scored four touchdowns. Besides the 75-yard kickoff return, Moore scored on runs of 17 and 5 and caught a 27-yard scoring pass from Cunningham. Moore finished with 65 yards rushing on 10 carries and caught four passes for 77 yards. He also ran back a punt for 40 yards.
"Eric Ayers got the ball and lateraled it back to me," Moore said, explaining the kickoff return. "I waited for the hole to open and went through it as fast as I could, and outran everybody."
Moore runs and catches, throws occasionally and also plays defense. His favorite part of the game?
"I love all of it," he said, and it showed last night.
Cunningham rushed for 115 yards on 10 carries and completed 5-of-7 passes for 80 yards. The Central QB scored the game's first TD on a 1-yard run and added a 25-yard TD sprint in the third quarter when the Dragons scored 29 points. Besides the TD toss to Moore, Cunningham hit tight end Adam Frederick with a 16-yard score.
"In the open field, they are very tough to tackle," Central coach Dave Baker said of Moore and Cunningham.
"Their quarterback [Cunningham] and number 34 [Moore] are outstanding players," Forest Hills coach Don Bailey said. "We had our hands full with them."
Baker said Moore's kickoff return was one of the game's biggest plays.
"Some things started to go our way," Baker said. "I couldn't tell what happened on the kickoff. It looked like they should have tackled him to me.
"That sort of turned it and then Cunningham's kickoff return to start the second half was a big difference," Baker said, "plus they made some mistakes that contributed to it."
Cunningham returned the second half kick 52 yards to the Forest Hills 24 and, following a personal foul penalty on the Rangers, Moore scored from the 5 and the rout was on.
"We self-destructed," Bailey said. "We kept making mistake after mistake. They put points up and it just snowballed, kept going downhill.
"They're a good football team," Bailey continued. "We worked our rear-ends off just to get here. We had an upset win last week and I was hoping for more of the same tonight. We played a good first half, but self-destructed the second half."
Forest Hills upset Central in last year's playoffs as quarterback Joe Donoughe had a big night passing. Donoughe started fast last night, but the Rangers couldn't keep up with the speedy Dragons.
"We tried to pass again tonight, but we're not as good as we were last year," said Bailey, whose team finished 7-5.
"We knew we were going to get some redemption tonight," Moore said. "We had motivation.
"Richland is going to be a big challenge, but I think we'll be ready for it."
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Forest Hills0 14 0 0 - 14
Central7 12 29 14 - 62
C-Cunningham 1 run (Slagenweit kick), 1:02.
FH-Donoughe 2 run (Leach kick), 9:10.
C-Moore 17 run (kick failed), 6:37.
FH-Wieczorek 2 run (Leach kick), 1:40.
C-Moore 75 kickoff return (pass failed), 1:26.
C-Moore 5 run (Moore run), 11:19.
C-Cunningham 25 run (Frederick pass from Cunningham), 5:17.
C-Moore 27 pass from Cunningham (Slegenweit kick), 5:06.
C-Frederick 16 pass from Cunningham (kick failed), 3:35.
C-Conrath 1 run (Slegenweit kick), 7:59.
C-Price 1 run (Slegenweit kick), 1:04.
RUSHING: Forest Hills-Wieczorek 7-45, Blough 8-5, Ohler 2-7, Chinault 1-1, Ivock 1-(-8), Donoughe 6-(-28), TEAM 1-(-34). Central-Cunningham 10-115, Moore 10-65, Conrath 4-28, Emerick 5-23, Mock 1-9, Shirey 1-7, Price 2-8, Hamor 1-7.
PASSING: Forest Hills-Donoughe 14-37-2-167, Ivock 0-1-1-0. Central-Cunningham 5-7-0-80, Moore 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Forest Hills-DiFlauro 6-69, Blough 3-50, Shima 2-20, Madison 1-17, Sherle 1-6, Ohler 1-5. Central-Moore 4-77, Mock 1-3.
INTERCEPTIONS: Central-Lythgoe, Hoenstine, Benton.