There would be no blown leads on this night.
One week after squandering a two-touchdown, third quarter lead and walking off with a tough loss to neighborhood rival Northwestern, the Central Rockets were in no mood to mess around with the Norland Vikings on Saturday night.
Central jumped out to a quick 14-0 first quarter lead and never looked back, putting a convincing 38-0 beating on the Vikings in a key District 16-6A contest at Traz Powell Stadium.
The win moved Central to 6-2 overall but also 3-0 in district play and just about wrapped things up. The Rockets need only to beat South Miami next Thursday afternoon at Tropical Park to mathematically and officially clinch first place.
“A good solid performance tonight and that’s what we needed,” said Central head coach Roland Smith. “Anytime you take on a district rival like Miami Norland, you have to be ready to go and play good football. I told the kids this week to just forget about Northwestern. That that was in the past and that we were moving forward. Now it’s all about making sure we win our district and we’re in good shape after tonight.”
They’re in good shape thanks to a solid rushing performance, something they didn’t get last week when they rushed for just 27 yards against the Bulls. On Saturday night, the Rockets had 32 yards on the ground after their first three plays and 102 by the end of the first quarter.
After an Amari Daniels touchdown run was wiped out on the opening drive by a penalty and the Rockets wound up not scoring, they righted the ship on their second possession.
Thanks to a short Norland punt into the wind, Central took over at the Vikings 30 and was in the end zone five plays later when, on fourth-and-nine from the 18, quarterback Katravis Marsh found Yulkeith Brown on a perfectly executed bubble screen for a touchdown.
Following another short punt on the next possession, the Rockets took over at the Norland 34 and running back Demond Brown bolted 34 yards for a score on the first play to make it 14-0 and the rout was on.
“Last week was last week, it was just all about coming out tonight and winning a big district game,” said Marsh, who turned in modest but solid numbers completing 8-of-17 for 117 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers. “We took care of business and that’s all that matters. Now we have to keep this train moving.”
After a Jayden John field goal, the Rockets’ special teams got in on the act. With Norland about to put some points up on the board with a short field goal one minute before halftime, the low kick was blocked. In a bizarre moment, players from both sides stood around watching the ball before Wesley Bissaint picked it up and took off around the right side. He picked up a row of blockers and 85 yards later he was in the end zone to make it 24-0 at the half.
The Rockets then unveiled a new wrinkle to their offense when they came out for their first drive in the second half when Brown, a wide receiver, line up at quarterback in the wildcat formation.
But he didn’t just run it, he also threw it, finding Chemon Metayer for a 15-yard scoring toss to make it 31-0.
“Yeah, just trying to change a few things up on offense a little bit and maybe give our opponents a different look,” said Smith. “We tried it a little bit and we’ll continue to work on it and sharpen things up.”
Then it was just a matter of seeing if Central could score one more to get the running clock moving and did it on the final play of the third quarter when March found Lamar Seymore over the middle for a six-yard touchdown.
The Central defense obviously showed up on Saturday night as well, pitching a shutout and holding Norland (2-4, 1-1) to just 56 yards on the ground.
“I definitely had to get last week out my system,” said defensive end Tre’von Allen who had two sacks and was in on 10 tackles. “That was not a good night and not a good feeling walking off that field. Tonight was not only important to win but to come here and dominate. We needed to make a statement and I think we did that. It’s my senior year and I’ve never been to state and I want to go out on top.”