Turnovers, penalties plague Central in loss
The Central High School football team is waking up this morning hoping it was only a nightmare.
But the six turnovers, 17 offensive plays in the first half, nine penalties and the 13-12 loss at home to Gateway was all too real.
“That’s a game we shouldn’t have lost,” Central coach Vern McGee said. “But maybe we aren’t as good of a team as we thought we were last week.”
Right from the opening kickoff, the Warriors never seem to be on the same page. Offensively in the first quarter, the Warriors had a three-and-out, followed by a lost fumble, an onside kick recovered by Gateway and another lost fumble.
“I’m kind of disgusted,” Central defensive back Taylor Sanchez said. “It’s frustrating but we have to back our team up.”
Gateway’s run-first attack never capitalized off the field position it was given early in the game, and only came away with a 25-yard David Duarte-Corado field goal.
After Duarte-Corado’s second missed field goal at the beginning of the second quarter, Central’s Holden Reed was intercepted by Semaj Baldwin at the Central 30-yard line. The Warriors’ defense again held, blocking Duarte-Corado’s 36-yard field goal attempt.
Reed got the Warriors’ offense going on the ensuing Central drive, rushing 14 yards for a first down. On the next play at the Central 46-yard line, running back Josh Buniger fumbled the pitch, which was recovered by Baldwin and returned to the Central 11-yard line.
The Warriors’ defense bailed out the offense again when Sanchez intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone. But Central couldn’t overcome its own mistakes, committing a turnover for the sixth straight drive when Travis Haney intercepted Reed.
Gateway was able to capitalize on the turnover with less than a minute left when LaDaris Mungin scored on a 16-yard touchdown, giving the Olympians a 10-0 halftime lead.
“They came to play,” McGee said. “Our offense was unacceptable in the first half.”
Central lost another fumble on the first possession after halftime, and again the defense stopped Gateway. The two teams traded possessions until the Warriors got on the scoreboard with a 59-yard Buniger touchdown run.
Gateway got a big return from DaShawn Garcia on the ensuing kickoff, and the Olympians were able to take a 13-6 lead on Duarte-Corado’s 33-yard field goal.
After the field goal, Central put together a 16-play drive that was capped by an 8-yard touchdown catch by Vandon Sanchez to get the Warriors within one point, 13-12. Central elected to go for the two-point conversion, but Reed was tracked down on an option play.
“We missed our first (PAT kick) and I wasn’t happy about it,” McGee said. “We went for the win at that point, and thought we could still shut them down.”
Central did get the ball back, but its final drive stalled, with three penalties pushing the Warriors into a 4th-and-23 situation, where Reed was sacked.
Central held the Olympians to 148 yards on 47 offensive plays. The Warriors gained 252 yards on offense, led by Buniger, who rushed for 94 yards on nine carries.
“It’s hard to lose,” McGee said, “but I hope these kids can bounce back.”