Central’s football team has used the past month to regroup after a tough loss to Booker T. Washington.
If recent performances are any indication, Central has recovered just fine.
Against a Homestead squad that features the nation’s top-rated receiver in Ermon Lane and one of the most potent passing attacks in the state, Central put on its own offensive show Saturday night defeating the Broncos 37-20 at Traz Powell Stadium.
The Rockets (4-1, 1-0 in District 16-6A) won their third consecutive game since the Booker T. defeat by amassing 490 yards of total offense against the Broncos (3-2, 0-2), who suffered their second consecutive district loss.
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Central, still ranked in the top five nationally in multiple polls despite the early-season defeat, has looked every bit ready to challenge for what would be its second consecutive Class 6A title and third in four seasons.
The Rockets have outscored their past three opponents 136-41 including a 50-21 road victory against New Jersey’s Don Bosco Prep.
“I thought the trip to Don Bosco helped us bond together and showed our kids what it takes to respond and pick up big victories,” Central coach Roland Smith said. “We have three tremendous backs, and we have to keep finding ways to get them the ball and be successful.”
Joseph Yearby, a University of Miami commitment, ran for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries to lead the Rockets’ offense. Malik Adams finished with 81 yards rushing on eight carries, and quarterback Keith Reed threw for 141 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown pass to Tavius Brown, Jr.
Dalvin Cook also scored two touchdowns, but only finished with 60 yards. His most vital contribution came on defense. He often defended Lane, helping to limit the fellow University of Florida commitment to three catches for 31 yards and no touchdowns.
Cook snared an interception in the fourth while covering Lane one-on-one on a fade pass to the end zone.
Central’s most valuable defensive player, however, was junior Olin Cushion, who finished with two interceptions and recovered a fumble.
“I told Olin he’s the player of the week this week,” Smith said. “He’s a guy who’s tough and works really hard for us, and we’re going to need big games like that from him to be successful.”
Homestead junior quarterback Maurice Alexander threw for 230 yards and hooked up with Keshaun Taylor for a 46-yard touchdown pass that tied the score at 7 early in the second quarter. Taylor finished with five catches for 127 yards.
But Homestead’s turnovers prevented it from finishing drives and staying in the game. The Broncos’ loss left them in a position where they will have to defeat Carol City and Northwestern to keep their playoff hopes alive.