PARK HILLS – Jett Bridges showed remarkable composure to escape pressure from all directions, and Dayshawn Welch brilliantly juked and slashed through traffic to streak past the left pylon.
It was almost a 37-yard touchdown for the ages that could have potentially saved an unbeaten season for the Central football team on Friday night.
But the sight of a dreaded yellow flag turned pure elation into stunned frustration, and visiting Seckman got the defensive stop it needed to secure a wild 35-33 victory.
Sophomore quarterback Cole Ruble scored all five touchdowns and rushed for an astonishing 401 yards on 43 carries behind a Class 5 offensive line that mostly pushed the Rebels back.
But Central brought all 11 defenders forward to finally stuff him on fourth-and-1 from the Jaguars’ 36 with about three minutes remaining, setting the stage for an emotional finish.
Bridges somehow extended a fourth-and-10 play on the ensuing series before locating Welch near the sideline, and the all-state running back followed with an electrifying trip to the end zone.
But amid the chaos that developed within the play, officials penalized left tackle Jason Pyatt as an illegal man downfield. Game video showed the call to be accurate, as the junior lineman was stationed at the 25-yard line, or 12 yards past the line of scrimmage, as Bridges released his throw.
Seckman (4-2) survived one more desperate heave after the flag was marked off, and kneeled away the last 1:28 of the contest for its third consecutive win.
The Jaguars curbed the usually potential rushing attack of Central (7-1), allowing just 93 yards on the ground, including a season-low 50 for Welch on 13 carries.
The Rebels went deep into their playbook as a means to counter the more conventional style and size advantage of their powerful opponents.
Central converted a pair of two-point conversions on gadget plays, including a rollout pass from holder Ty Schweiss to Korbyn Pratt on a fake extra point in the first quarter.
Pyatt had two early tackles for loss to help force the lone Seckman punt. Central capitalized for an 11-7 lead as Justin Bridges drilled a 39-yard field goal.
That possession was prolonged when Jett Bridges connected over the deep middle with Ruger Sutton for a 24 yards on fourth down from the Seckman 48.
But the Rebels could not otherwise contain Ruble, whose scoring bursts of 39 and 29 yards around the edges occurred one minute apart and sandwiched a Bridges fumble.
He added a 50-yard touchdown on the final play of the third quarter to restore a 27-18 advantage after Bridges’ 29-yard scramble trimmed the 21-11 halftime margin to three.
Bridges completed a solid 16-of-24 overall for 238 yards, and threw two touchdowns strikes to freshman sensation Jobe Bryant during the exciting fourth quarter.
Bryant plucked a 20-yard throw from the air with 7:04 left for the game’s final points after the Rebels overcome a holding penalty, and now has nine touchdown grabs on the season.
He reeled in a previous 25-yard TD before taking a handoff from an unusual formation and throwing a two-point pass to Slade Schweiss that brought Central to within 27-26.
Slade Schweiss had a team-high five receptions for 64 yards, including a couple of crucial sideline routes to convert multiple third downs and one fourth-and-6.
Welch had 81 yards on three receptions, highlighted by an explosive 40-yard screen to begin the third quarter. Grant Manion chipped in four catches and 47 yards.
Ruble capped the game’s opening 13-play drive by plowing in from the 1. Bridges answered with a 2-yard keeper following a 40-yard kickoff return by Bryant.
Each team had one red-zone turnover in the first half. Defensive end Xander Burke recovered the ball for Central when a high snap slipped through the hands of Ruble.
Linemen Brandon Granger and Justice Ashlock each registered two sacks while Brandon Borawski and Colton Critchlow made 10 tackles apiece for the Jaguars.