Tyrone topples Dragons
ROARING SPRING — Tyrone coach Jason Wilson had seen a performance like he got from defensive back Damon Gripp Friday night at Central’s Roaring Spring Athletic Field before.
That was until Gripp surpassed Wilson’s older brother Jerry’s performance in a 2000 District 6 Class 2A semifinal victory over Westmont Hilltop with his fourth pick of the game, which he returned for a touchdown to cap the scoring in the Golden Eagles’ 33-13 triumph over the Scarlet Dragons.
“There was a game where my brother had three interceptions, I think against Westmont, way back when,” Wilson said. “Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any game I’ve played in or coached where I’ve seen one player get four interceptions.”
Gripp’s big game, along with a 200-yard rushing performance from Zac Albright, helped the Golden Eagles knock off Central, which beat Tyrone twice last year, including in the playoffs.
Central struggled to run the ball, rushing for just 68 yards on 27 carries as a team, and was forced to throw it 42 times.
“It’s so much fun, because you’re in on the play all the time,” Gripp said. “Everyone thought we were going to lose this, and we came out and proved them wrong. So that feels pretty good.”
Tyrone lost its opener in overtime a year ago and never recovered during a 3-8 campaign. The Golden Eagles are hoping a 2-0 start to this year will lead to momentum they can carry throughout this season.
“It’s awesome that we beat Central,” Tyrone quarterback Denver Light said. “It’s been years since we beat Central, and this is a big win. We have to just keep focused and work toward next week.”
Light opened the scoring by finding Tommy Hicks on a 35-yard touchdown pass on a drive set up by a Gripp interception. Albright followed that with a 54-yard jaunt into the end zone to make it 14-0.
“He’s a tough, downhill runner, and we saw that last week too,” Wilson said. “He can break tackles. He really ran the ball hard. He’s just such a good downhill runner, and he can find those seams and get through that first level.”
Gripp seemed to snuff out any possible Central momentum with an interception late in the first half, but Thad Albright picked off a pass of his own for the Scarlet Dragons on the next play then caught an 8-yard scoring pass from Noah Muthler to pull within one score.
Just before Central was to receive to second-half kickoff, lightning streaked across the sky and put the game into an hour and a half delay. At just after 10 p.m., the second half finally began, and Tyrone quickly regained the momentum when Light ran 45 yards to set up a 4-yard touchdown run.
“We just waited, and we didn’t know when or if we were going to start again,” Central coach Dave Baker said. “We wanted to play, and Tyrone was willing to stay, and they said they would wait until it got better. It seemed that it might have (hurt) our momentum, but I don’t think that was the difference in the game.”
Brandon Homan and Light hooked up for a 26-yard score on Tyrone’s next possession, but Muthler scored from 2 yards out early in the fourth quarter to bring Central within 13 points.
The Scarlet Dragons got the ball back and made it to the Tyrone 35, but Muthler’s 40th pass of the night fell incomplete on fourth down to all but end the game.
“Not many, if any,” said Baker when asked if he’s had a quarterback throw as many times as Muthler did during his long coaching career. “We got behind, and we had trouble running the ball against them. We had trouble sustaining much of anything on the ground, and that’s basically what happened. We had to do something, and we couldn’t run on them.”
Gripp’s fourth interception came with 1:25 to play, and he returned it 45 yards to set the final score.
“They just were a better team than us tonight,” Baker said. “They were good.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Tyrone 7 7 12 7 — 33
Central 0 7 0 6 — 13
T–Hicks 35 pass from Light (Raabe kick), 3:31.
T–Z. Albright 54 run (Raabe kick), 2:42.
C–T. Albright 8 pass from Muthler (Keith kick), 0:33.
T–Light 4 run (kick failed), 8:05.
T–Homan 26 pass from Light (pass failed), 4:50.
C–Muthler 2 run (kick failed), 10:46.
T–Gripp 45 interception return (Raabe kick), 1:25.
TEAM STATISTICS T C
First downs 12 14
Total yards 323 248
Rushes-yards 41-240 27-68
Yards passing 83 180
Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 4-13-1 18-42-4
Punts-avg. 5-28 2-29.5
Fumbles-lost 4-1 2-2
Penalties-yards 10-73 4-35
RUSHING–Tyrone, Z. Albright 26-200, Light 7-47, Zimmerman 2-8, Lucas 2-1, TEAM 4-(-16). Central, Muthler 12-30, Marko 3-15, Imler 5-11, Quarello 3-7, Walters 2-5, Parks 1-1, Kurtz 1-(-1).
PASSING–Tyrone, Light 4-11-1-83, Lucas 0-2-0-0. Central, Muthler 18-42-4-180.
RECEIVING–Tyrone, Hicks 1-35, Homan 1-26, Lehman 1-15, Gripp 1-7. Central, T. Albright 8-79, Parks 4-55, Kitt 2-26, Walters 1-12, Kurtz 1-5, Quarello 1-3, Marko 1-0.