Jacob Kaiser sat on the sideline, not expecting to take the ball after Central differed its choice until the second half after the game’s opening coin toss Friday against Ruskin.
Central linebacker Jake Stoll had other ideas, racing down the field on kickoff coverage forcing and recovering a fumble to set the Indians up with the ball in the red zone. Stoll then took the ball 10 yards on the first play from scrimmage, and Kaiser found Eli Mejia in the back of the end zone on the next play for a touchdown less than 30 seconds into the game.
It would be more of the same throughout for Central, coasting to a 47-14 win vs. Suburban Conference Red Division foe Ruskin.
“It’s always big to get the ball off the kickoff like that and score in two plays,” Kaiser said. “It was good momentum for us to win this football game. It’s always a good feeling to know you’re getting the ball and getting another chance to put a great offense on the field.”
Central (5-4, 3-2) still ended up with the No. 4 seed in Class 5 District 8 and faces a first-round matchup rather than a bye next week.
The Indians play No. 5 seed Park Hill in the first round, a rematch of last week’s wild comeback win for Central. Derek Gray’s late touchdown gave the Indians a 32-29 in a wild, back-and-forth finish.
Gray provided much of the offense again in an easy runaway, guaranteeing the Indians finish at at least .500 for a second straight year.
Coming into the matchup with Ruskin (0-9, 0-5), Central coach Jeff Wallace knew his offense could move the ball on the Eagles defense. Gray piled up more than 200 yards on the ground to go with three touchdowns.
“We weren’t really sure what we were going to get,” Wallace said. “I knew that we could dominate them up front on the line of scrimmage no matter what defense they were in. It was just there.How they were lining up, they were just giving us a lot of stuff. You always want to take what the defense is giving you, and I thought we did that and our kids executed very well.”Central jumped to a 33-0 lead before the defense finally broke.
Ruskin drove 80 yards in just more than five minutes to finally crack the scoreboard. Kenny Scott was the cog for Ruskin, running in both scores and passing for 185 yards while throwing two interceptions.
“Games like this are tough,” Wallace said. “You love the score and all that, but you get some momentum going all of a sudden it’s 33-0 then you let off the accelerator. We had already let down a little bit and now it’s hard to put the accelerator down again.”
A Kaiser strike capped off Central’s scoring.
The junior dropped back and saw Nick Shores running free down the seam. Kaiser planted a bullet through the defense, and Shores caught it and outran his pursuers for a 65-yard score to provide the final margin.
Gray finished with three scores on the ground and 223 yards from scrimmage.
“It’s all my o-line,” Gray said. “They created the holes and I just made it happen. If it wasn’t for my o-line I couldn’t do what I did tonight. We talk about it at practice, ‘Never let anybody get a hold of you.’ You always hit them back and hit them harder. Each play you hit them harder and harder and that’s what we go by physical mentality.”
Central won a second straight for only the second time this season and will need beat Park Hill for the first three-game winning streak of 2012 to earn a matchup with District 8’s No. 1 seed Staley.