Bellefonte coach Shanon Manning knew from watching game tape just how dangerous of a team Central was.
Unfortunately, the Red Raiders found out really quick just how explosive the Scarlet Dragons were as the home squad jumped out early and often in a 55-20 Mountain League rout at the Roaring Spring Athletic Field on Friday night.
“They have some really good athletes we had a hard time matching up with tonight,” Manning said. “You can see it on film all you want, and until you’re standing there and see it, it’s hard to judge those type of things.”
The first two times Central touched the ball to open the game, it scored touchdowns. Both however, were called negated due to penalties.
Bellefonte (2-6 overall, 2-4 Mountain League) could have stayed with the Dragons if that would have been a reoccurring theme; however, once Central (7-1, 5-1) scored the next time, it counted, and so did the TDs on its next five possessions.
“I think our team speed was more than they could match,” Central coach Dave Baker said. “They had trouble containing our returns, and the big plays, of course, they had a little trouble with that.”
The only little bit of success the Red Raiders had was in the return game as Nick Jabco and Austin Jackson reeled off long returns a couple of times.
Jabco’s 45-yard TD run would finally get Bellefonte on the scoreboard at the 3:08 mark of the first quarter to make the score 21-7 in Central’s favor.
Jackson would provide his own offense as he end the first half scoring with a 43-yard burst to pay dirt with just 1:46 before halftime that saw the score at 48-13.
Jabco took over under center for most of the first half after starting quarterback Adam Armstrong threw a struggled to keep the offense moving.
“We’ve been working on kind of a wildcat set (with Jabco) — it’s something we’ve been working on,” Manning said. “We didn’t want to use it a whole lot until we were able to through the ball at them, so we had a full complement to do it with … it was ready to use a little more (this week).”
Tyler Kreger would put the last points on the board on a 3-yard run at the 8:19 mark of the final stanza — touching off a 10-play drive for Bellefonte.
While the offense had its share of problems, the defense simply had no answers for the Scarlet Dragons’ three biggest weapons.
Senior QB Noah Benton’s 11-yard run at 10:23 mark of the opening quarter was the spark that ignited the Dragon offense, as he then threw back-to-back TD passes to Alex Hoenstine (48 yards) and Justin Helsel (40).
Benton who ended the half, and the game, going 8-for-8 for 215 yards through the air, would connect with Helsel once again in the second on a 54-yard scoring play. He capped off his night by beginning the third quarter with a 55-yard sprint up the middle to close out the Central scoring.
“The question we have, and we (coaches) just talked about it is, ‘how good are we against real good teams?‘ We’ll find out,” Baker said. “I think we can be (really good), but we’ll have to prove it. We’ll have to prove how good we are against good teams. That’s the mark of how good you’re are.”
In addition to his two receiving TDs, Helsel also returned a kickoff 85 yards for a score and added a pick-6 from 74 yards away off an Armstrong pass.
Hoenstine, who added 77 yards in returns in addition to his 83 receiving, also scored on a 9-yard run to open the second quarter.
“We’ve played against some really good athletes over the course of the year, they had three that were second-to-none that we’ve seen. Quite honestly, they really were,” Manning said.
Bellefonte will travel to Chestnut Ridge next Friday, while Central will play host to Huntingdon.