High School Sports

High school football: Penns Valley loses shootout with Central

Up by only one score early in the second quarter, Central decided to reenact the infamous Boise State statue of liberty play.

Second and goal on the Penns Valley three-yard line, senior quarterback Austin Cunningham lined up in the shotgun and after he received the snap, threw a pump fake out to what appeared like it was going to be a swing pass.

The only problem for the Rams was Cunningham pumped with a blank hand. Instead, Cunningham held the ball behind his back with his left hand and when he pumped, the Rams defense froze. That allowed fellow senior Bradi Moore to grab the ball and run to paydirt untouched for the touchdown.

It wouldn’t be the last times that Moore found the end zone. The running back would score six times in the Dragons’ 69-41 shellacking of the Rams. Central scored four times in the 1:25 of the first half courtesy of multiple Ram mistakes.

“I’ve never been apart of anything like this, through the good and the bad, and the ugly,” Penns Valley coach Martin Tobias said. “They are an offensive juggernaut and we couldn’t stop them. It didn’t matter if it was special teams, it didn’t matter if it was the pass game, I think that we helped to contain their run game to a certain extent, but they made plays.”

The Rams managed to draw the game even at 21 early in the second quarter thanks to two scores a 2:12 span, but sloppy play to close out the half proved to be their downfall.

Sophomore quarterback Noah Benton connected on two passing touchdowns as the half wound down and it would had been three, had Cunningham not drawn up his own hook and ladder play with Moore.

With just over 40 ticks left in the half, Cunningham caught a six-yard curl from Benton and as he was about to get tackled, he pitched it back to a streaking Moore, who carried the load the rest of the way for the score. It was the second time of the evening that the two connected for a score on some trickery, but their scoring did not end there.

Moore caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Benton to end the half. Cunningham returned a kickoff in the second half 90 yards to the house. Combined on the evening, Moore and Cunningham were in the mix for nine touchdowns — two of which were on special teams — and they helped to land the knockout blow that set the Rams back to 1-3 on the season.

“It makes it so that you can score from any place at any time and it also makes it so that our blockers want to set up blocks on returns,” Central coach Dave Baker said. “That’s partly because they’re good at returning and it’s partly our blockers know if they set up blocks and do the blocking that they will get some returns on it, so it works both ways. But they’re fast and they can see the field and they are very experienced players, they’ve been playing for three years now.”

Central finished with 520 yards of offense and while it was a blowout, the Rams’’ Cameron Tobias proved that he could air it out with the best of them. The senior gunslinger ended the game with 316 passing yards and three scores.

While it wasn’t a fun one to be apart of if you were a Rams’ fan, Martin Tobias was pleased with the strides in his squad’s passing game, especially after they managed 77 yards through the air in the loss last week to Bald Eagle Area.

“I think that our passing game really came along, we knew that we were going to struggle up front running the ball and our plan was to come into it and throw the ball, and we had some success with it,” Martin Tobias said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t sustain the success and match them punch-for-punch so to speak.”