Central Valley gets late score to top Bishop McDevitt 26-21
Jordan Whitehead has been making plays all year. Ridiculous plays. Tonight at Mansion Park in Altoona, Whitehead was just being Whitehead, intercepting passes, breaking long runs and scoring touchdowns. Trailing 21-20 with Bishop McDevitt facing a fourth down, Jordan dropped back deep to field the expected punt.
Whitehead took the ball at the Central Valley 16 and returned it to the 50. “I really haven’t had any kick returns this year, maybe one or two, so I’m not surprised that the team kicked to me,” Whitehead said. “I was eager to make a play.” Whitehead almost cost Central the game. The Pitt bound running back made one of his signature spins at the 45 and as he went down the ball popped loose.
“I was just thinking hopefully one of my teammates got it,” Whitehead said. “I was just trying to make a play on what could have been one of our last drives and I was trying to make a play for my team. I got a little carried away trying to do too much, but I thank Isaiah Vreen for recovering that ball.”
With just 2:26 left in the game, Central Valley quarterback John George dropped back in the pocket and saw what he knew was going to happen, B.J. Powell was racing down the center of the field and had his man beat. “I was like I just gotta get him the ball,” said the senior qb. George laid the ball right where it needed to be and it looked like Powell was going to score. He was eventually brought down at the 10, setting up the winning score by Whitehead. Jordan finished with 21 carries for 177 yards.
“I was just thinking either score or don’t fumble it cause we’re gonna score. That play was open all night. We missed it a couple times but I knew we were going to come back to it,” said George.
Bishop McDevitt’s night got off to a slow start. A very slow, strange start as they took the field not in their Navy Blue home jerseys but rather Maroon..as in Altoona Maroon. “Yeah, somehow we got mixed up and thought we were the away team. Altoona loaned us their jerseys,” said Crusader head coach Jeff Weachter.
On the fourth play of the game Nick Marsilio overshot his receiver and Whitehead made a leaping interception. The Blue Devils failed to move the ball and the teams exchanged punts and each team found themselves pinned deep on those drives, both inside their own 20. Central had the ball at their own 17 when Greg Artis-Payne got his first of two sacks on the night, forcing George to fumble. Buddy Pagliaro recovered for McDevitt at the nine. A holding penalty moved the ball back to the 15 where Marsilio hit Kyree Calli for a 15 yard TD and the Crusaders led 7-0 with 3:53 left in the first quarter.
Nick Marsilio led his team with good passing to the 18 of Central, but the Blue Devil defense tightened and stopped the drive on downs. “We knew they were going to stretch us. We knew that. Their quarterback, he did a great job. We had to tighten up our corners and we did that. We got some picks that we needed,” said Central head coach Mark Lyons. On the very next play Whitehead hit another gear going 69 yards to the three and Preston Johnson tied the game on a one yard run.
Bishop McDevitt came out of the tunnel to start the second half in their familiar home Blue Jerseys thanks to a kind person who drove the uni’s up from Harrisburg. The “inspiring” moment didn’t faze Central. George led his team down field with passes of 32 and 16 yards putting the Devils at the two and the sr. signal caller finished the drive. “I told everybody that I would make up for the fumble and I was just trying to make as many plays as I can,” George said.
The Crusaders just couldn’t keep the momentum, constantly plaguing themselves with penalties. “We know better, we just couldn’t stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Weachter. They kept it together long enough to tie the score at 14 on a four-yard Calli touchdown reception to end the third quarter.
After being sacked by Artis-Payne again, George hit that middle pass right on target for the first time. Kurt Reinstadtler outraced the defender and 49 yards later Central was leading again. The kick after failed keeping the score 20-14.
Whitehead intercepted Marsilio again but the following Central drive stalled. The Crusaders, trailing by six with just under eight minutes remaining in the game, marched right down field where Calli made a great adjustment on a Marsilio 32 yard pass at the goal line and hauled in the go ahead score.
“The minute they scored, I said, ‘We got this. This is what we do,’ and there was plenty of time for us,” Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said. “That’s how they responded.”
“None of us have been this far. We buckled down. We never gave up. It’s an honor to represent our community next week in Hershey,” said Whitehead.
Central will go on to face the winner of the Archbishop Wood/Somerset game next Friday at 7 p.m. in Hershey
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