PARK HILLS – The Central football team entered Friday boasting the highest ranking in program history, and did nothing to jeopardize that status against Confluence Prep.

Senior quarterback Jace Bland threw three touchdown passes, and ran for another score as the Rebels – ranked No. 3 in Class 3 – coasted to a 42-0 victory.

Ezra Sidebottom recorded two sacks and Holden Mayberry picked up another while Central (4-0) forced three turnovers in the defensive shutout.

Bland gave his team a 7-0 lead with a 44-yard touchdown keeper on its opening drive. He was 7-of-12 throwing for 184 yards, and connected twice with Will Hopkins on long scoring plays.

Confluence Prep (2-2) struggled offensively from the outset, netting negative combined yards during its first four possessions that resulted in three punts and a turnover.

The Titans made a solid stand after Central senior linebacker Jake Glenn forced and recovered a fumble deep in their territory midway through the first quarter.

But the Rebels, who ran far fewer plays from scrimmage than Potosi last week in a hard-fought 28-20 victory, continued to extend their lead heading toward halftime.

Tyreece Welch carried nine times for 57 yards overall, and bounced outside for a 21-yard touchdown that established a 14-0 lead.

Jake Casey notched his first touchdown reception of the season, racing 46 yards in the second quarter after the right cornerback jumped the route late with no safety help.

Hopkins was wide open over the middle for 59-yard touchdown, and later added 41-yard strike from Bland on a third-and-16 play in the third quarter to cap the scoring.

Glenn rumbled in from 13 yards with 2:28 on the clock, and the Rebels rolled into halftime with a 35-0 margin ahead of a conference test next week at Ste. Genevieve.

Central could also pull several positives from its special teams. Dawson Day gained 25 yards on a nifty punt return, and Gage Manion was perfect while kicking six extra points.

Tanner Smith broke up a late Confluence pass in the endzone to help preserve the shutout, and boomed a 71-yard punt moments after the Titans fumbled near the Central 2.

The Rebels’ longest march of the night was their first, covering 83 yards in 10 plays. The easily converted on fourth-and-inches from their own 38 before Bland ultimately scored.

A 26-yard run from Rahji Howard and 24-yard catch by Nhtavis Wilson provided highlights for the Titans, who twice reached the red zone after a bad punt snap and 15-yard penalty against the Rebels.

Quarterback Devion Isaiah did not take snaps in the second half after sustaining several hard collisions, but did produce four separate punts of more than 40 yards.

Evan Sidebottom made a team-high eight tackles while Aaron Dooley and Bradey Clark fell on fumbles in the fourth quarter for Central.

Tyce Huck caught the lone completion from back-up QB Dylan Corcoran for 13 yards.

Matt King is the sports editor for the Daily Journal. Contact him at mking@dailyjournalonine.com

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