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Jason Clark wraps up Brady Collins for a Friday night loss at Tiger Stadium. Photo for The Mirror by Chuck Meyers

By John Hartsock

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HOLLIDAYSBURG — It’s an excellent barometer of success for a Pennsylvania high school football team to practice and play a game over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The Central High School Scarlet Dragons, currently on a 10-game winning streak, will do just that for the second straight November.

Central (11-2) generally dominated from start to finish in their District 6-9 Class 3A subregional playoff game against Clearfield on Friday night at Hollidaysburg’s snow-covered Tiger Stadium, putting in a solid all-around team effort on both sides of the ball in a 35 -6 win.

Senior quarterback Jeff Hoenstine completed 16 of 23 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns for Central, whose front-line defense blocked Clearfield for more than three quarters before taking a 35-0 lead with the Dragons.

The win earns Central a spot in next weekend’s PIAA Class 3A Quarterfinals game against Grove City for the second straight year. Grove City advanced to next weekend’s game, to be played at a District 10 venue at a time to be determined, by defeating Slippery Rock 42-23 in Friday night’s District 10 championship game.

“(Clearfield) played hard and they played well, but I think you have to say we controlled that game quite a bit,” Central coach Dave Baker said of his team’s performance on Friday. “They had injured some people but I thought we were the better team tonight.

Senior wideout Eli Lingenfelter caught seven passes for 127 yards and two touchdown passes in Hoenstine’s first quarter with 7 and 5 yards as the Dragons built a 14-0 halftime lead.

“The pass connection from Hoenstine to Lingenfelter is pretty solid, then later in the game we started running the ball and they couldn’t stop it,” Baker said.

Central’s defense played light at the right time. After limiting a powerful Penn Cambria offense to just six points in last week’s District 6 Class 3A championship game win, the Dragons also handcuffed Clearfield on Friday night.

“They were never able to threaten our goal line,” Baker said.

The Scarlet Dragons made a big stop when Clearfield tried to run for a first down late in the third quarter with a fourth down and a 1-yard situation on his own 10.

Central took the downs, and junior running back Hunter Smith hit on a 10-yard run on the Dragons’ first pull from scrimmage to Central a 21-0 spread going 3-11 in the third third and for all intents and purposes bestow, salt away the game.

“They tried fourth down there because they didn’t want to give us the ball back,” Baker said. “We played better on defense, we tackled better and we were quicker on the ball. Those were all the things we struggled with on defense earlier in the season, but now we’re doing them a lot better.”

Central senior Jason Clark, a two-year defensive end starter, thought Friday’s game was won in the trenches.

“I felt like we had to control the line of scrimmage tonight and we came out and did what we had to do,” Clark said.

Run of the game: Central dominated the game in the first quarter with two shots on goal, which were underlined by long passes from Hoenstine to Lingenfelter. A 39-yard pass from Hoenstine to Lingenfelter was the key play on the Dragons’ first drive as Central streaked 89 yards in nine games. The next time Central got the ball, the Dragons moved 61 yards in just four moves, with Hoenstine’s 33-yard pass to Lingenfelter being the biggest move on that drive.

Player of the Game: Hoenstine had another great night, throwing the two touchdown throws to Lingenfelter in the first quarter and an 8-yard TD shot at senior wideout Dalton Metzger in the fourth quarter. Hoenstine also ran 1 yard for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Unsung Hero(es): Central’s first-team defense kept Clearfield’s offense in check.

Key Stat(s): While Clearfield passed Central for 156 yards on 114, the Bisons were one-dimensional on offense, completing just one pass for eight yards. Hoenstine, meanwhile, completed at least one pass to six different central receivers and at least two passes to five of those receivers.

Clearfield coach Tim Janocko: “This game was actually closer than the end result suggested. Our kids have come so far this season. They’ve weathered injuries and won both the Mountain League and District 9 championships, and they played hard against a good team tonight. I am so proud of these children.”

Hoenstine: “We didn’t play our best game. We moved the ball, but we committed some penalties (six for 63 yards) and we left some points on the board. But we won and that’s all that matters.”

Baker on Grove City: “We played them last year (in the PIAA quarterfinals) and beat them up there (35-6 on the Slippery Rock University field) in a snowstorm. I didn’t really watch them because we were preparing for (Clearfield). But they have some of their boys back from last year, including their quarterback. (Winning the game last year) gives us some confidence that we can at least play at the same level with them, but whether or not we can win next week’s game remains to be seen.”

Notable: Clearfield, who finished their season with an 8-4 record, scored their only points of the game on a 2-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter performed by Brady Collins as a sophomore against Central’s reserve defense unit. Collins had a game-high 80 rushing yards on 17 carries while speedy senior scatback Kade Rhule led Central’s rushing attack with 74 yards on 17 carries…Clearfield turned the ball over three times, with Lingenfelter and Metzger intercepting passes for Central and senior Kaden Fisher catching up on a fumble… Rookie Colton Ryan intercepted a pass for Clearfield, who will join Central next season as a member of the expanded Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference.

Records: Clearfield (8-4); Central (11-2).

Next week: Central will play District 10 champion Grove City in a Class 3A PIAA Quarterfinals game at a District 10 location at a time to be determined.

RESULT AFTER QUARTERS

Free field 0 0 0 6 — 6

Central 14 0 7 14 — 35

first quarter

C–Lingenfelter 7 pass by Hoenstine (Smith kick), 3:33.

C–Lingenfelter 5th pass from Hoenstine (Smith Kick), 0:29.

Third quarter

C–Smith 10 run (Smith kick), 3:11.

fourth quarter

C-Hoenstine 1 run (Smith Kick), 11:56.

C-Metzger 8 pass by Hoenstine (Smith kick), 10:36.

CLF–Collins 2 run (kick missed), 4:18.

TEAM STATISTICS CL C

First Downs 7 16

Total meters 164 333

Rush Yards 42-156 16-114

Yards pass 8 219

Passing game (comp.-att.-int.) 1-5-2

Punts Avg. 3-26.3 2-41.5

Fumbles lost 5-1 0-0

Penalties 6-73 6-63

CUSTOM STATISTICS

RUSHING: Clearfield: Collins 17-80, Freeland 9-55, Chamberlain 8-32, Curry 3-5, J. Sampsell 4-(-14), Graffius 1-(-2). Central: Rhule 7-74, Hoenstine 4-27, Smith 2-11, Baker 2-2, Beach 1-0.

OVERHAUL: Clearfield: J. Sample 1-5-2-8. Middle: Hoenstine 16-23-1-219, Muthler 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVED: Clearfield: Knees 1-8. Central: Lingenfelter 7-127, Smith 2-28, Daugherty 2-15, Rhule 2-14, Metzger 2-13, Yingling 1-22.

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