Most of the attention after Central York nail-biting, 13-12 win over South Western went to Panthers tailback Charles Anderson. And deservedly so. The senior's 310 rushing yards more-than-merited the attention.
But Central needed more than just Anderson's rushing to win. As Mustangs coach Don Seidenstricker said, merely chalking Central's win up to Anderson would be "oversimplifying" things.
So why else did Central win (besides a pair of missed extra points by the Mustangs)? The Panthers defense, which never let South Western's wing-T rushing attack get going. The Mustangs had just 83 yards rushing, led by Levi Sager's 45. Central York appeared to win the battle at the line of scrimmage, frequently getting penetration and stopping the Mustang attack before it really started.
"We were feeling pretty good about some things, and they came out at the start of the second half and did exactly what we thought they'd try to do," Central coach Brad Livingston said. "They ran a couple really nice sweeps on us, then we settled down a little bit."
Central's defense is known for its blitzing, attacking style, and Friday was no different.
Of course, that strategy can be a risky one -- South Western hit a pair of big passing plays for touchdowns, a 29-yard pass to Mike Felton in the first quarter, and a 61-yard strike to Jimmy Nicklas in the third. But more often than not, those risks produced rewards. Mustangs quarterback Ian Smith finished 3-of-18 passing, and went 1-of-9 in the fourth quarter as South Western tried to mount a comeback. Smith's final pass resulted in an interception by Brandon Kenney, sealing the game for the Panthers.
"It's a situation that normally we would be comfortable with," Seidenstricker said of being forced to pass in the fourth quarter. "Actually, I wouldn't say we weren't uncomfortable with it tonight. ... It's a shame we didn't hit some of the shorter stuff we'd have liked to, to set some of that bigger stuff up."
All in all, it was another stifling outing by a defense that came into the game ranked second in the YAIAA in scoring average (8.6).
Point-after problems: It almost seemed unfair that such a closely contested game between excellent teams was decided by, of all things, a pair of missed extra points. But in the wind and rain Friday, something as seemingly simple as an extra point became far from easy.
South Western was ultimately doomed by a pair of botched snaps on PATs. The snap on the first attempt was wide and dribbled away, while the second attempt was bobbled and almost spotted, before Ian Smith's kick of the unsettled ball was too low.
Seidenstricker said extra points hadn't been a problem previously, and chalked the miscues up to the weather.
"You could make the case for going for two there in the third quarter, but I thought it was a little early to go for two," he said. "I'm a very conservative person, always have been on a football field."
Central York also fumbled a snap on an extra point in the second quarter. Kicker Aaron Goodyear booted the only extra point of the game in the first quarter, after Anderson's 65-yard score.
Charles in charge: Want to know how good Charles Anderson has been this year? After his 38-carry, 310-yard performance Friday, his yards per carry for the season actually went down. He was averaging 8.6 yards a pop before the game. That's down to 8.5.
Still not too shabby if you ask me. Anderson leads the YAIAA with 1,536 rushing yards.
More Anderson: Another fun fact. South Western had not allowed 200 total rushing yards to any of its previous seven opponents. Anderson reached the 200-yard plateau with 6:57 left in the second quarter.
Friday was not Anderson's biggest rushing output of the season. He ran for 329 yards and five scores against Northeastern in Week 3.
Quote of the night: "It gets tiring sometimes, but you got to keep your head in the game. If I'm back there breathing hard, and (the quarterback) says 'Set, Go,' I know there's no time for breathing. I can get my breathing time after the play." -- Anderson, on whether he gets tired playing both ways. He had 38 carries Friday, and played almost every defensive snap.