By Yvonne Dennis (246)
Three times in the closing minutes of Central’s 2016 football season opener on Friday, turnovers changed the trajectory.
But the Lancers fought hard till the last seconds and overcame a tough opponent in Wissahickon High School to secure the win, 27-21.
The first score of the game came late in the second quarter when senior Tavion Rogers rushed for a touchdown after a nice setup run the play before by senior Blake Schwartz. A converted extra point made it 7-0 Lancers.
The Lancers defense gave up some big plays but also made some big stops in the red zone to send the Trojans into the locker room scoreless at the half.
In the third quarter, Wissahickon came out hard and quickly matched Central with its own rushing touchdown and successful point after.
Neither team ever led by more than one score, trading touchdowns until Wissahickon tied Central at 14 in the third.
In the closing quarter, as the Lancers aimed to get back on top, quarterback Gerrit Roscioli got in some trouble trying to scramble and he fumbled.
The Trojans recovered, only to cough up the ball themselves one play later. Blake Schwartz, playing running back and linebacker, scooped up the ball and ran it back for a touchdown. (His celebratory backflip in the end zone drew a yellow flag and cost the Lancers 5 yards on the following kickoff.)
The Lancers were not on top for long as Wissahickon steadily drove down field and running back Darryl Baldwin punched in his second touchdown of the day from short yardage. A successful point after made it 21-21.
On the following drive, Roscioli managed to direct the Lancers back down field, but they weren’t able to score.
Back on the field, Trojans quarterback Mike Schoenleber completed a mid-range pass to his far left on third down with 54 seconds to go. His receiver took two steps– then fumbled the ball.
Central junior Basheer Steed sprinted into the Trojan’s end zone before the 50 or so fans in the visitors bleachers could barely process what happened.
The extra point attempt went wide, but time soon ran out for Wissahickon.
Lancers head coach Rich Drayton (246) was pleased, of course, with the win, pleased “that we finished. We didn’t quit.”
But, he said: “I didn’t like the turnovers and I didn’t like the big plays we gave up on defense. So those things we have to work on.”
The off-sides penalties and false starts were also on his mind. “We have to be more disciplined. Not only the best conditioned team but the most disciplined team on the field. That’s what we strive for.”
Coach Randy Cuthbert, 16 years a head coach but in his first year as head coach and athletic director at Wissahickon, had a lot to be proud of Friday. The now 1-1 Trojans, of Ambler, Pa., host Pottsville Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.
Next Friday Central hosts Martin Luther King, who lost to Wissahickon in its first game.
This pass interference by No. 6 of Wissahickon set up the third Lancers touchdown.