PARK HILLS – Most high school football teams are not equipped to overcome 115 yards in penalties during a single game. But the Central offense is far from ordinary.
The Rebels amassed more than 500 of their 646 total yards before halftime, and quickly stamped six straight possessions in the end zone while routing Caruthersville 63-26 on Friday night.
The defense produced three interceptions for a second straight contest, and Central (2-0) overcame the unwanted obstacle of 17 flags with a steady barrage of explosive plays.
Kannon Harlow and Jobe Bryant each reeled in two scoring receptions, and senior quarterback Casen Murphy fired six touchdowns on 14-of-18 completed passes for 244 yards.
Caruthersville (0-2) was limited to about 50 rushing yards, and lost starting back Kamron Isbell after a heavy collision in the first quarter.
Abeyon Motton had three receptions for 51 yards, and returned a kickoff 61 yards for a touchdown that highlighted a solid effort by the Tigers on special teams.
But the Rebels moved down the field without much resistance, and carried a 56-26 halftime advantage. Jaxon Jones notched 112 yards on seven carries, and Bryant turned five catches into 143 yards.
Central scored two plays into the third quarter – on powerful 33-yard runs up the middle by Jones and Mat Manion – before Barrett Henson and Devon Graf protected the turbo clock with picks.
Harlow registered a big tackle for loss on the opening series, and sparked the ensuing Central drive with a pair of first-down receptions before Jones powered ahead for a 23-yard touchdown.
The initial score followed an interception by Murphy on a rollout throw by Jermonte Alexander, one of three Caruthersville players to take snaps at quarterback.
Alexander promptly answered with a 62-yard touchdown from Ryan Guest on a swing pass, immediate cut and acceleration. Guest completed 4-of-11 overall for 81 yards.
Jobe Bryant twisted defenders with elusive moves in tight spaces on several occasions, but his 26-yard scoring catch was along an open right side due to a blown coverage.
The Tigers came back with a 70-yard kickoff return by Alexander and subsequent 8-yard run by Sammy Bryant before the two-point conversion forged a 14-14 tie.
Central continued to attack boldly with its speed, and tacked on three more touchdowns before the first quarter concluded. Eight penalties in the period proved inconsequential.
Caruthersville had a chance to secure a stop after Jake Stevens made a tackle in the backfield, but pass interference and offside flags helped the Rebels negate a third-and-18 situation.
Harlow gained 24 yards though another gaping hole provided by his linemen, then caught a 15-yard toss from Murphy in a clean pocket to restore a 21-14 lead.
The Central defense followed with consecutive three-and-out series, and a blowout steadily developed. Harlow lunged toward the left pylon for a 44-yard touchdown on an inside run.
Jones erased the effects of sack by Tigers linebacker Jared Hudgens with a 40-yard run, and Bryant beat the secondary on a deep slant for a 27-yard score and 34-14 cushion.
Sammy Callaway made three of his five tackles for either no gain or a loss, and Nathan Weinhold sacked Guest to further frustrate the visitors prior to intermission.
Bryant had a 56-yard punt return called back on an illegal block, but Murphy gained 30 yards on a nifty scramble and flipped a 7-yard touchdown against the flow of the offense to a wide-open Harlow.
Braydon Berry atoned for a dropped pass with excellent concentration, as he secured an 18-yard catch while dragging his toe in the corner of the end zone to make the margin 49-14.
A 48-yard middle screen to Bryant set up an 8-yard touchdown catch by Caden Casey, who matched Harlow with four receptions each in the victory.
Caruthersville capped a wild first half on a short keeper by Alexander with 13 seconds left after Motton advanced the chains with a couple of long leaping catches.
But the Rebels produced a scoreless defensive effort after intermission, helped by a sack from lineman Hayden Carver and solid work throughout the second string.
Central finished with 402 rushing yards after Layton McFarland gained 22 and Colin Hulsey picked up 20 more on single carries in the fourth quarter.
Graf was 7-of-8 on extra points for the Rebels, who will open conference play in week 3 at Potosi.