PHILIPSBURG — It wasn’t a very happy Homecoming for the Philipsburg-Osceola football team.
The Mounties fumbled the ball on their second play from scrimmage. It was recovered by Central’s Bradi Moore for a touchdown, and a sign of things to come.
The Dragons got big games from their two big guns and downed the Mounties, 54-20, on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
P-O scored two late touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters with a running clock to set the final.
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“Athletically we were outmatched, and that was definitely the difference in the game,” Mounties coach Jeff Vroman said. “You can match the athleticism of a couple of their kids. They made big plays.
“They were getting them in chunks. They take the edge and they get it on you.”
Central quarterback Austin Cunningham completed five passes for 143 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown pass to Moore. He also ran for 88 yards on eight carries.
Moore was even better, toting the ball just nine times for 186 yards and four touchdowns. He could’ve had a fifth, but lateralled the ball to lineman Colin Lythgoe at the 1 for the score.
“We knew it was going to be hard to defend Moore,” Vroman said. “He has great speed and he sees things well. Cunningham is the same way. They can cause you real problems with that. We couldn’t match their speed.
“You watch them in person and you are more impressed than you are watching them on field. Those two kids stuck out tonight.”
Philipsburg-Osceola did move the ball, pushing into Dragon territory on its second and third possessions of the first quarter.
But the Mounties continue to struggle with penalties, forcing them to settle for a 27-yard field goal from Nick Boumerhi and a punt.
Boumerhi was a bright spot, going 2-for-2 on field goal attempts, including what Vroman thought was a school-tying 43-yarder in the second.
“Every week he is the bright spot,” Vroman said. “Have you seen a better kicker? He’s the best kicker around here. He works hard at it and he does a great job with it.
“That’s why we aren’t afraid to try 40-yarders. I think that 43-yarder may tie the school record.”
And while penalties were killing the Mounties offensively, Central seemed to have little trouble overcoming its mistakes.
The Dragons had two different drives, including one with three penalties that resulted in long touchdowns on the very next play.
One of those came in the second when the Dragons were flagged for holding, moving them back to their own 20. On the next play, Cunningham hit Moore for the 80-yard strike, giving Central a 33-6 lead with 7:03 to play in the first half.
Central finished the game with seven penalties for 72 yards, while P-O had five for 30.
“We got down to the 1-yard line and got marched backwards and had to settle for a field goal,” Vroman said. “That hurts. You put a six-minute drive together and to come away with only a field goal hurts.
“We just continue to shoot ourselves in the foot with simple penalties. A five-yard penalty is a five-yard penalty. It doesn’t have to be a 10- or 15-yarder. A simple five-yard penalty can throw you out of rhythm.”
After taking a 40-6 lead at the half, the Dragons opened up the third quarter with another big play.
On a second-and-5 from the Central 25, Moore broke off a run that went 74 yards. He crossed to midfield before tossing the ball back a yard to Lythgoe for the score. Zach Slagenweit added the PAT to put the score at 47-6, setting the running clock for the rest of the game.
Central added one more touchdown in the third quarter, as Nick Hoenstine took in a 2-yard run.
P-O picked up a 6-yard score from Mason Pryde with 1:44 to go in the third. A Boumerhi PAT cut the score to 54-13.
That touchdown was set up by a 25-yard pass from Curtis Matsko to Aaron Mason. Matsko threw for 190 yards on the night.
“We moved the football,” Vroman said. “I was pleased at times with how we moved it. We had receivers wide open in the first half that we missed. We made some good throws.
“But you can’t turn the ball over, especially when they hadn’t even had the ball yet.”
Dustin Shuey closed out the scoring for the Mounties, punching in a 5-yard run with 3:34 left in the game. Boumerhi added his eighth point of the night, setting the final.
Shuey led P-O with 59 yards on nine carries. Pryde had 34 yards on nine carries. Tanner Lamb caught two passes for 85 yards, while Mason added three catches for 64 yards.
Philipsburg-Osceola dropped to 1-6 overall. The Mounties travel to Huntingdon on Friday.
Central improved to 5-2. The Dragons host Bellefonte on Friday night.