PARK HILLS — A superb running performance behind a dominant offensive line helped the Central football team control the first half, and defeat Ste. Genevieve for the first time since 1986 on Friday night.
The Dragons made a furious comeback at home with five touchdowns after the intermission, and even pulled within four points with 43 seconds left, but the Rebels covered the final onside kick and survived for a 46-36 victory.
Central (7-1) easily produced two running backs reaching triple digits in yardage. Matt Ketterer racked up 185 yards on 25 carries, and Tyler Friend compiled 148 yards on 18 attempts with four touchdowns.
Friend capped a physical opening drive by the Rebels with a 2-yard scoring surge, and the Rebels would never trail despite watching Ste. Genevieve (2-6) respond with an impressive 18-play possession.
Central stacked up a running play from the 1-yard line, and forced a fourth-down incompletion early in the second quarter. The Rebels responded with a 98-yard touchdown drive, then capitalized on a fumble before the break.
A 15-yard TD scamper by Friend and subsequent pass from quarterback Ryan Calvird to Tanner Skaggs made the score 14-0. Calvird added a 48-yard strike to Skaggs with 2:45 left for a 20-0 halftime margin.
Friend began the third quarter with a 45-yard burst off left tackle, netting his third touchdown of the evening, and Central was seemingly cruising along despite committing 12 penalties in the contest.
Ketterer answered a Ste. Genevieve scoring toss from quarterback Brendan Weiler to Brock Meyer with a 68-yard scoring run on third-and-25, making the lead 34-6, but the Dragons continued to chip away with its persistent short passing game.
Ste. Genevieve made a big play on special teams when Nic Wittu returned a blocked punt by Meyer to the Central 7, and quickly converted when senior Tim Lurk caught a deflected throw from Weiler.
Calvird led Bales perfectly on a 49-yard pass over the middle for Central, which allowed Friend to score from 5 yards out on the next snap. The pivotal sequence resulted in a 40-20 differential with 8:01 remaining.
Ste. Genevieve made two key defensive stands down the stretch and, the tandem of Weiler to Meyer continued its success with three additional scores in the fourth quarter.
A scrambling 30-yard pass to Meyer and following two-point conversion brought the surging Dragons within 40-36, but the Rebels sealed the victory with a 58-yard run in the closing seconds.
Bales paced the Central defense with 11 tackles and Jaron Bridges added nine. Preston Harlow made an interception in the third quarter.
Weiler finished the night 35-of-44 overall for 239 yards. Meyer totaled 10 receptions for 75 yards, while Jacob Billings and Lurk each made seven catches.
Central 6 14 14 12 – 46
Ste. Genevieve 0 0 14 22 – 36
CEN (6-0) – Friend 2-yd run (Run failed), 6:45
CEN (14-0) – Friend 15-yd run (Skaggs reception), 5:54
CEN (20-0) – Skaggs 48-yd pass from Calvird (Run failed), 2:45
CEN (26-0) – Friend 45-yd run (Pass failed), 9:01
SG (26-6) – Meyer 4-yd pass from Weiler (Run failed), 6:38
CEN (34-6) – Ketterer 68-yd run (Skaggs reception), 4:08
SG (34-14) – Lurk 7-yd pass from Weiler (Noll reception), 1:17
SG (34-20) – Meyer 13-yd pass from Weiler (Pass failed), 9:51
CEN (40-20) – Friend 5-yd run (Run failed), 8:01
SG (40-28) – Meyer 6-yd pass from Weiler (Lurk reception), 6:37
SG (40-36) – Meyer 30-yd pass from Weiler (Meyer reception), 0:43
CEN (46-36) – Calvird 58-yd run (Run failed) 0:07