After being shut out for all but one second of the first half, Central scored as time expired and then went on a 27-0 run to open the second half to beat Catholic 34-19 at Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
The Wildcats were led by running back Zach Evans, who rushed for 104 yards and one touchdown on 22 carries, and quarterback Brett Courville, who completed 10 of 16 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns.
“I challenged this team at halftime to step up,” said Central coach Doug Dotson. “We’re too good to not play a complete game. I’m happy our offense finally exploded; that’s just a taste of what we’re capable of.”
The Bears were led by Ben Braymer, who threw for 255 yards and two scores on 16-of-28 passing.
“They really more than anything, took away our run game,” said Catholic coach Dale Weiner, whose Bears tallied just 79 yards rushing. “That hurt us because we’ve been able to run the ball fairly well.”
Catholic scored with just 18 seconds remaining in the first quarter when Braymer lofted a fade from 11 yards out that Ken Ward hauled in comfortably in the end zone near the right sideline.
The Wildcats went three-and-out on their third drive and were forced to punt from their end zone, a punt the Bears returned to the 29-yard line. One play later Catholic had doubled its lead to 12-0 when Braymer hit Christian Brown deep down the left sideline.
With Catholic driving late in the half, Braymer was picked off by Dalton Holdman, who returned the ball to the Wildcats’ 18.
Central, which was quiet most of the first half, exploded on its drive, marching downfield before Courville finally got them on the board with a 19-yard touchdown pass right down the middle to Gary Triplet as the half expired.
Central took its first lead of three minutes into the second half when Courville hooked up with Triplet again, this time for a 57-yard touchdown on a quick screen pass.
After the Bears punted from deep in their territory, Central took over at Catholic’s 38-yard line. The Wildcats needed just two plays to get into the end zone, and stretched their lead to 20-12 when Evans sprinted down the right sideline for a 29-yard score.
Things went from bad to worse for Catholic when Khalil Thomas fumbled on the first play of the next drive, and Brodie Browning picked up the ball and returned it to the 5-yard line. Courville did the work himself this time, rushing in on a keeper to extend Central’s lead to 27-12.
The fourth quarter started in the same fashion as the third as Courville found Devon Gales in space down the right sideline for a 67-yard touchdown on third-and-long.
The Bears clawed one back midway through the final quarter when Patrick Van Duzee barreled up the middle from a yard out to make it 34-19.