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Football: Bears make up for a sluggish start
Springstead comes out dominant, then Central wakes up and scores 32 unanswered.
By DAVID MURPHY
Published October 7, 2007
BROOKSVILLE - For 18 minutes, they stood on the sidelines and waited. Duane Marks and Chase Walker and, yes, Central coach Cliff Lohrey. They watched as a Springstead team short on experience and size yet long on the fundamentals of the game marched up and down the field, breaking off runs of 4 and 5 yards at a time, gaining first downs, eating clock, distributing the ball so evenly they might have landed themselves on Sen. McCarthy's red list.
For 18 of the game's first 19 minutes, Springstead's offense controlled the ball. And for 18 of the game's first 19 minutes, Central's offense waited.
"We kind of were getting a little frustrated," said Marks, the Bears running back. "But we knew we were going to get it right."
Did they ever.
After watching Springstead run 30 of the game's first 33 offensive plays and build a 10-0 lead, Central seized control of the Class 4A, District 8 showdown, tallying four touchdowns, two safeties and 32 unanswered points en route to a 32-10 win.
In the end, the turning point was a 31-yard field goal attempt Springstead missed with just over five minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Eagles had just driven 59 yards and chewed up over 10 minutes, and seemed poised to take a 13-0 lead.
But Central responded, driving 86 yards in 11 plays to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Marks that cut its deficit to 10-7 at the half. The Bears dominated from that point, getting two more touchdown runs from Marks and a beautiful 37-yard touchdown completion from Chase Walker to Mike Sawchuk that capped an efficient offensive effort.
Walker finished with 104 yards on 7-of-8 passing, while Marks came just 7 yards shy of his second straight 100-yard rushing performance.
"Springstead came out with a solid gameplan," Lohrey said. "In one word, they're always efficient. They always force you to make adjustments."
On the defensive end, that mean adjusting to Springstead running back Mike Greco, who gained 86 yards on 15 carries, and quarterback James Mahla, who completed 10-of-15 for 109 yards.
The Bears defense was dominant in the second half, though they were aided by key penalties and two consecutive bad snaps - one that sailed over Mahla's head to kill a drive, another that sailed over the punter's head and landed in the end zone for a safety.
"Too many times, instead of responding to a mistake, we responded with a mistake," Eagles coach Bill Vonada said.
For the Eagles, that meant falling to 0-2 in Class 4A, District 8. For the Bears, it meant evening its record at 1-1 and setting up a crucial showdown with Land O'Lakes in two weeks.
A lot will depend on how Land O'Lakes finishes its game against Tarpon Springs, which will be resumed Monday night with the Gators leading 17-0 a few minutes before halftime.
For now, Central is happy with how it has progressed since losing to Ridgewood two weeks ago.
"We haven't hit on all cylinders yet," Lohrey said, "but we're going to have to."