Central York football head coach Josh Oswalt said after Friday’s 36-7 home victory against Northeastern that his team just needs to follow one simple motto.
“Keep chopping wood.”
Friday night, the mantra paid off.
Despite dominating throughout the entirety of the game, it would have been easy for the Panthers to become frustrated at the fact the halftime score didn’t reflect such an effort.
“We were just waiting for that breakthrough moment,” Oswalt said. “Our defense played lights out. Our offense, I told them just be patient.”
But, just like the coach wanted, the Panthers (2-2, 1-0 York-Adams Division I) kept chopping; and chopping; and chopping some more. Their ‘ax’ coming in the form of a constant, punishing rushing attack that produced a trio of 100-plus yard performers.
Final blow: The moment to shout “timber” would have been at the end of Central’s 14-play, 99-yard drive which culminated in junior quarterback Cade Pribula’s first of two rushing touchdowns. That moved the score to 29-7 Panthers mid-way through the final quarter.
After forcing a three-and-out to start the third quarter, the Bobcats (3-1, 0-1) had the ball and only trailed by eight at 15-7. But that’s when the whacks with the ax really started to topple the Northeastern tree.
Three plays into Northeastern’s ensuing possession, Central’s Joey Sauers intercepted a Zech Sanderson pass in Bobcat territory.
And that’s when the Panthers started striking their final blows.
Six players after Sauers’ pick, junior running back Hunter Werner rumbled in from 12 yards out for his second touchdown of the night to put Central ahead 22-7.
Werner and fellow junior running back Will Vandyke were the workhorses out of the backfield for a Panthers team that rushed the ball 69 times for 382 yards and three scores. Werner toted the rock 27 times for 138 yards and a pair of scores, while Vandyke’s number was called 22 times for 143 yards.
“It was a good game,” Werner said. “It was me and Will, left and right, he got the ball I got the ball. We both ran well, we were hitting the hole hard and getting the yards that we needed. We saw that the inside of their line wasn’t as strong as it should be, so we knew we should just hit inside all night.”
Pribula also solid: Pribula’s prowess with his legs was evident as well, posting 101 yards on the ground of his own to go along with two rushing touchdowns. His second score on the ground featured a highlight-reel spin move on a Bobcats defender during a 30-yard trot.
He also completed six of 13 pass attempts for 144 yards, which included finding senior receiver Tim Sturgis in the endzone for a 13-yard score early in the second quarter that made it 9-0 Panthers.
Bobcats senior running back Wyatt Hughes was the team’s leading rusher with 81 yards on 11 carries. His 46-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter trimmed Central’s lead at the time to 15-7.
“Our kids played hard, and I told them we got to get healthy and come back next week and refocus,” Northeastern head coach Jon Scepanski. “It’s one game and that was a good football team.”
With the score at 22-7 in the third, Northeastern put together a solid drive that saw it first-and-goal from the Panther’s 10-yard line. Three straight running plays pushed the ball down to a fourth-and-goal situation from a yard away.
The quarter changed between the third and fourth down plays, serving as a well-needed break for the Bobcats’ offense. But rather than trying to stuff it in from three feet out, Northeastern opted for a pass attempt that ended in an incompletion.
The Bobcats’ were then toppled by Central’s lengthy scoring drive.
After a scoreless first quarter, Central got the scoring started by pinning Northeastern deep in its own territory before the Panthers’ Obi Anyatonwu blocked a punt through the back of the endzone for a safety and a 2-0 lead.
As a team, the Panthers outgained the Bobcats 526 to 189. Central’s defense also limited Sanderson to a tough 4 for 12, 54-yard night.
Early challenges yield results: Oswalt called Friday’s performance his teams best of the season so far. He also admitted that the effort was born out of a pair of challenging games against a pair of District 3 mainstays to start the season.
“It’s been a rough start” Oswalt said of his team’s 1-2 record coming in. “We struggled Week 1 because it was Week 1. We struggled Week 2 because it was Cumberland Valley. We struggled Week 3 to a point because it was Hempfield. So this week, especially, was one we needed to get the offense moving and we finally got it going.
“I wouldn’t change that schedule for the world, though, because when adversity strikes, I want to see what kind of men I have on my team. We got a good thing going, our offensive line grinded it out well tonight.”
Next up for the Panthers is a trip to South Western (2-2, 1-0) on Sept. 29. The Bobcats will play host to Red Lion (4-0, 1-0) on the same night.
“We’re moving on. It’s South Western now. We’ve got to keep chopping wood," Oswalt said. "This is a division where we can’t sleep on anyone and we have to be ready to go for the next week.”
Northeastern 0 – 7 – 0 – 0 = 7
Central York 0 – 15 – 7 – 14 = 36
CY – Safety, blocked punt, 11:40
CY – Sturgis 13 pass from Pribula (Basile kick), 9:28
CY – Werner 24 run (Kick no good), 5:09
NE – Hughes 46 run (Torres kick), 3:36
CY – Werner 12 run (Basile kick), 7:02
CY – Pribula 7 run (Basile kick), 6:42
CY – Pribula 30 run (Basile kick), 1:37
First downs: CY, 31; NE, 6
Rushes-Yards: CY, 69-382; NE, 26-135
Passing Yards: CY, 144; NE, 54
Comp-Attempts-INTs: CY, 6-13-0; NE, 4-12-1
Penalties-Yards: CY, 4-39; NE, 2-10
Punts-Average: CY, 3-35.7; NE, 6-31.5
Fumbles-Lost: CY, 1-0; NE, 0-0
Individual passing: CY, Pribula 6-13-144, TD; NE, Sanderson 4-12-54, 0 TD.
Individual rushing: CY, Werner 27-138, Vandyke 22-143, Santos 2-0, Pribula 18-101; NE, Brown 4-9, Mulbah 4-50, Willis 3-(-9), Sanderson 3-0, Williams 1-4, Hughes 11-81.
Individual receiving: CY, Sturgis 3-81, Santos 2-20, Sanchez 1-13; NE, Hughes 1-5, Mulbah 2-35, Willis 1-14.