Central has several players capable of putting up big numbers on offense, but it was the defense that stole the show at home Friday night.
Facing region foe Hixson on a perfect evening for football, the Purple Pounders improved to 2-1 overall and 2-0 in region play with the 40-0 shutout of the Wildcats, but it was the defense that stood out the most as they recovered four fumbles and returned three of them for touchdowns.
All of the scoring took place in the first half, including three of Central’s TDs in the final four minutes.
The Mercy Rule was in play for the second half, which meant the clock was running non-stop, so the final 24 minutes were complete in less than a half-hour.
Central coach Curt Jones was all smiles when the final horn sounded.
“That’s what we were looking for as we finally put a complete game together,” he said near midfield.
“We hang our hats on defense, so for us to get half of our points from those guys really makes me happy. These kids have really been working hard and all of our extra reps are paying off. Those other teams in our region better watch out. But you have to feel good when your defense gets results like we did tonight,” Jones added.
Hixson coach Josh Owensby was quick to point out to the turnover difference as a key to the final result.
“We have to take care of the football, but until we learn how to value it, we’re going to struggle. We had a couple of nice drives, but all of those turnovers killed us. We just have to learn how to play clean football,” the coach nodded.
Tyi Mosley put the Purple Pounders on the board with a 35-yard fumble return with 7:16 left in the opening stanza. John Van Hoozier booted the extra point and the difference was 7-0 at that point.
Quarterback Ronye Watson hooked up with Donovan Smith on a 70-yard pass play with 3:53 left in the opening quarter for a 13-0 lead and that was the difference at the first break.
Reggie Wadley recovered another Hixson fumble on the second play of the second stanza and Watson zipped 44 yards untouched down the left sideline with 10:38 left in the first half. Watson’s pass to Noah Collins extended the Central lead to 21-0.
Watson tossed another TD pass – this one covering 24 yards to Mosley – for a 27-0 advantage with four minutes left before intermission.
Then just for good measure, Central had two more fumble returns for TDs, including one of 15 yards by Blake Brothers and the other of 62 yards by Marquise High on the final play of the half to send the Purple Pounders to the dressing room with a comfortable lead of 40-0.
Hixson had its most successful drive to start the second half, but quarterback Christian Smith was sacked for a seven-yard loss on third-and-three from the 7 and his incomplete pass on fourth down gave the ball back to Central.
The Purple Pounders drove the length of the field, but on fourth and goal from the 7, Watson’s pass to Mike Watson was stopped at the 1.
Hixson was able to run six more plays before the game ended.
Central finished the game with 284 total yards, including 166 on the ground and another 118 through the air.
Ronye Watson was the leading rusher with 67 yards on four carries while Mike Watson had 62 yards on 11 trips and Collins 57 yards on nine attempts. Smith was the leading receiver with three catches for 64 yards.
Hixson finished the game with 141 total yards after gaining only 68 yards in the first half.
Smith completed six of 14 pass attempts for 84 yards while KoKo Kendricks led the Wildcat runners with 52 yards on 15 carries.
Central will be at home again next week to host Red Bank while Hixson will be on the road again to play East Ridge.
HIXSON 0 0 0 0 -- 0
CENTRAL 13 27 0 0 -- 40
Cen – Tyi Mosley 35 fumble return (John Van Hoozier kick), 7:16 left in first;
Cen – Donovan Smith 70 pass from Ronye Watson (kick failed); 3:53 left in first;
Cen – Watson 44 run (Noah Collins pass from Watson), 10:38 left in second;
Cen – Mosley 24 pass from Watson (kick failed), 4:00 left in second;
Cen – Blake Brothers 15 fumble return (kick failed), 3:26 left in second;
Cen – Marquise High 62 fumble return (Van Hoozier kick), 0:00 left in second.
TEAM STATS HIXSON CENTRAL
First Downs 11 10
Rushes-Yards 31-49 21-166
Passing Yards 92 118
Total Yards 141 284
Passes (Comp-Att-Int) 7-16-0 6-11-0
Penalties-Yards 5-40 7-60
Fumbles-Lost 6-4 2-1
Punts-Average 3-20.3 1-16.0
HIXSON RUSHING: Koko Kendricks 15 for 52 yards; Christian Smith 12 for 7; Ronald Suttles 3 for 3.
HIXSON RECEIVING: Barrett Seldon 2 for 26 yards; Eugene Callahan 2 for 41; Memphis Thomas 1 for 17; KoKo Kendricks 1 for 9;
HIXSON PASSING: Christian Smith 6 of 14 for 84 yards; Chase Barnard 1 of 2 for 9;
CENTRAL RUSHING: Ronye Watson 4 for 67 yards; Mike Watson 11 for 62; Noah Collins 9 for 57;
CENTRAL RECEIVING: Donovan Smith 3 for 64 yards; Noah Collins 2 for 21; Tyi Mosley 1 for 24; Mike Watson 1 for 6;
CENTRAL PASSING: Ronye Watson 6 of 11 for 118 yards and two TDs.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)