Dragons dominate early
TYRONE – Tyrone coach Steve Guthoff stressed to his defense the whole week that it had to know where Central weapons Austin Cunningham and Bradi Moore were at all times.
But as much as a team can scheme on defense, Cunningham and Moore have a way of burning the opposing team’s game plan.
In the first half, the Scarlet Dragons rode tremendous offensive efforts by their talented seniors, played rock-solid defense, outgained the Golden Eagles, 296-42, led, 19-0, at halftime and earned a 25-12 win on Friday night at Gray-Veterans Memorial Field.
“Our line really came to play,” Cunningham said. “They’re just real good up front, and when they’re doing their job, it makes our job easy, makes us look good. I knew these guys were going to be a tough team, and they are a tough team.”
“We knew what we were dealing with,” Tyrone coach Steve Guthoff said. “They’re the same guys that gave us a lot of trouble last year. We saw a really, really good senior-dominated football team that handled us probably a lot easier last year than they did this year.”
Cunningham’s first half stats: 5-of-7 for 126 yards, 33 rushing yards on seven carries, two receptions for 23 yards. Moore’s first-half stats: three receptions for 73 yards and eight runs for 30 yards.
What makes them so hard to defend is they do everything. Cunningham played QB and wide receiver offense, safety on defense and was the punt protector for Moore, who also played running back, wide receiver and cornerback, intercepting an Erik Wagner pass in the second half. Moore had 71 rushing yards, while the Cunningham had 70.
“You feel that you’re never at a place where you can’t do anything,” said Central coach Dave Baker, whose team finished with 401 total yards. “Now maybe you don’t get it done, but at least you feel as though you have a chance to do it.”
“We definitely like that on offense,” Cunningham said. “If the defense is giving us a look, we can pretty much line up and do anything.”
While the Central offense gets most of the spotlight, it’s defense can hold its own with the best. Led by tackle Austin Conrath, the Dragons held Tyrone’s James Oliver and Wagner to minus-9 yards rushing in the first half and Wagner to 6-of-14 for 51 yards.
The Eagles (1-1) picked it up in the second half, with Oliver finishing with 59 yards on 15 carries and catching a 54-yard touchdown pass from Wagner, who also tossed a 44-yard scoring strike Silas Crawford. Both TDs came in the fourth quarter.
“We were pretty dominant all night, except for those two big plays,” Cunningham said. “We’ll have to clean up on those.”
The Dragons (2-0), though, had made it an uphill battle with their first-half play. Oddly enough, all three of their scoring plays in the first half were from a yard out. Cunningham and Moore ran for touchdowns, and Moore added a 5-yarder in the fourth.
Their third 1-yarder came at the end of a 14-play, 92-yard drive. For nine of those plays, Cunningham played wide receiver while sophomore Noah Benton was at QB.
Benton ran three times for 31 yards on three carries, including a 24-yard run, completed passes of 11 and 12 yards to Cunningham and hit tight end Adam Frederick on a 1-yard TD pass on third-and-goal with 5.4 seconds left in the half.
“That was a back-breaker for us,” Guthoff said, “and we asked a lot of the defense as were stumbling around. We weren’t executing. I don’t think we were calling a great game. If we go in 12-0, it’s a little different, but our guys showed a lot of resiliency hanging in there.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central7 12 0 6 – 25
Tyrone0 0 0 12 – 12
C-Cunningham 1 run (Mellott kick), 3:33.
C-Moore 1 run (kick failed), 5:51.
C-Frederick 1 pass from Benton (pass failed), :5.4.
T-Crawford 44 pass from Wagner (kick failed), 11:50.
C-Moore 5 run (kick failed), 4:00.
T-Oliver 54 pass from Wagner (run failed), 3:50.
RUSHING: Central-Moore 13-71, Cunningham 11-70, Emerick 6-42, Conrath 6-36, Benton 4-31, TEAM 1-(-1). Tyrone-Oliver 15-59, Sleeth 4-6, Wagner 7-(-12).
PASSING: Central-Cunningham 6-8-0-128, Benton 3-7-0-24, Mock 0-1-0-0. Tyrone-Wagner 8-19-1-149.
RECEIVING: Central-Moore 4-75, Emerick 1-36, Cunningham 2-23, Frederick 2-18. Tyrone-Crawford 3-81, Oliver 1-54, Boone 1-12, A. Hunter 1-9, Getz 1-(-3), Sleeth 1-(-4).
INTERCEPTIONS: Central-Moore. Tyrone-none.