ROARING SPRING — Special teams in football can be very underrated and some say it is the most vital aspect of the game.
Unfortunately for the P-O football team, its special teams gave up three return touchdowns which cost the Mounties immensely.
Central scored 46 points in the first half, including three touchdowns from Austin Cunningham on a punt return, kick return and on a rushing score to help the Scarlet Dragons roll over the Mounties 74-20 on Friday.
“We didn’t spot kick the way that we would’ve liked to, which we’ll work on,” P-O coach Jeff Vroman said. “But athletically, we were definitely outmatched and that was evident in the return game.”
Cunningham scored his first touchdown just three minutes into the game on a four-yard keeper.
After the Dragon defense forced a Mountie three-and-out, Mountie punter Nick Boumerhi boomed a 37-yard punt. Cunningham took the ball at the 26-yard line and found running room on the right side and sprinted his way past all the P-O defenders for a 74-yard touchdown.
Cunningham passed for 52 yards on the night and rushed for 21.
Central fullback Austin Conrath scored on the Dragons’ next possession from six yards out to give his team an 18-0 advantage after one quarter. Conrath was the Dragons’ leading rusher, finishing just a yard shy of the 100-yard plateau.
All of Central’s extra point attempts in the first quarter were blocked.
P-O got itself on the board in the second quarter on a Curtis Matsko 13-yard pass to Skyler Shuey. In the second half, Mountie running back Erik Smith broke free on a 66-yard run to the house. Conner Mann also added a score in the fourth quarter on a 12-yard scamper and ran in the 2-point conversion.
“They were much better athletically than we are,” said Vroman. “We couldn’t match up with any scheme that they had, and that was evident.”
The Mounties fell to 0-7 on the season and host Huntingdon next week. The Bearcats fell to Bald Eagle Area on Friday 35-26.
Central travels to Bellefonte next week.