Come time to squash Norland’s uprising with the game tied in the fourth quarter Friday night at Traz Powell Stadium, Central’s defense belly-flopped on the Vikings to close out a 29-27 win.
Central, ranked No. 14 in the nation by MaxPreps and No. 23 by USA Today, moves to 4-0, 1-0 in District 16-6A. Norland falls to 3-2, 0-1 in district play.
A game with four lead changes entered the last eight minutes tied 20-20. First, defensive end Issac Addison picked off a third down screen pass at the Norland 18 and returned it to the 4. When Norland’s Tyrese Allen blew up Central quarterback Seth McGill’s third-and-goal run from the 3, the Rockets settled for a 20-yard Angel Lopez field goal.
A LaMarcus Anderson sack on first down and a bomb breakup by cornerback Chandler Jones on third down forced a three-and-out on the Vikings next possession. Once Central took over at the 49 with almost four minutes left, you figured the Rockets would try to grind the clock down.
Or, just hit the home run -- Willie Davis burst through the right side for a 49-yard touchdown run. That provided the buffer that allowed Central to Dave Richards’ 5-yard touchdown catch in the final minute. Well, Davis’ run and recovering the onside kick after Richards’ touchdown.
The game took on a running clock look early. Two three-and-outs forced by the Central defense sandwiched the Rockets’ offense scoring on its second play, Jernard Phillips streaking up the right sideline under a 43-yard bomb from Maurice Underwood. A missed extra point left Central up 6-0.
And when Central marched 59 yards to first and goal at the Norland 1 on its second possession, a rout felt a yard away. But the Vikings forced a 2-yard loss on first down, a chop block penalty and two sacks by Quincy Dorneval caused a turnover on downs at the 31.
Norland took the first lead by a visitor in a Central home game in two years with a pair of Alec Carr passes to Kevon O’Connor – a 32-yarder up the right sideline and a 14-yard leaping catch in the back right corner of the end zone. O’Connor’s extra point put Norland ahead 7-6.
The Rockets responded with a mighty rushing thrust off its right side. Willie Davis went that way for 16 yards. James Cook followed that path for 26 yards, then 12 yards. Kynlan Smith finished the decimation in that direction with a 17-yard touchdown run. An option pitch to Smith off the right side took care of the two-point conversion.
A 54-yard run by Norland’s Lyntii Borders set up O’Connor’s 30-yard field goal with 1:08 left in the half. A fumble on Central’s first play gave Norland the ball back at the 31. Carr hit Dave Richards for 17 yards, then scrambled 14 yards for the touchdown and a 17-14 Vikings’ halftime lead.