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Central grounds past Gate City for fourth straight win

Johnny Wilson, Sports Correspondent • Nov 2, 2019 at 2:00 AM

GATE CITY — Wise Central's three-headed monster chewed up legendary Legion Field on Friday night, pushing the Warriors to a 35-21 Mountain 7 District win over host Gate City.

The Warriors (7-2, 4-2) won their fourth straight game in methodical fashion, distributing 375 rushing yards in nearly equal portions among three runners.

Gate City (4-6, 2-4) had its collective head on a swivel trying to stop Central's high-speed run game, which featured athletic linemen pulling nearly every play.

"I want smaller guards, the 210-pound and 215-pound kids who can run like fullbacks," said veteran Central coach Luke Owens, an offensive linemen at Virginia Tech (1998-2002) who knows a bit about blocking. "That's what they are in our offense when we run wing-T — we want fullbacks at guard."

View the photo gallery from the game

With senior Josh Price and his highly mobile buddies paving the way, C.J. Crabtree ran 21 times for 138 yards, Matthew Boggs added 113 yards on just six attempts, and Noah Bolling collected 95 yards on 10 carries.

The bullish-but-quick Bolling, running inside on quick-hitting traps, scored three touchdowns. Boggs turned in TD runs of 45 and 21 yards, mostly doing his damage on the edge, using his ample speed and cutback abilities.

Crabtree praised his blockers and his backfield mates.

"I think all of our linemen do a great job getting out and running with us," said Crabtree, a junior. "They are really quick, and all our weapons in the backfield really add up to a good offensive scheme."

Central finished with 410 total offensive yards to 222 for Gate City.

CENTRAL LEADS FOR GOOD

The Warriors, down 7-0 early, found themselves in a 14-14 game late in the second quarter when Gate City jumped offside on fourth-and-2, giving Central a first down at its own 47 with 2:09 on the clock.

"That's on me," said first-year Blue Devils coach Jeremy Houseright. "That's coaching and that's my fault completely. I've got to do a better job of reminding these kids and being more vocal with them in situations like that."

Three plays later, after a 23-yard pass from quarterback Ethan Mullins to Bolling, Boggs broke his 21-yard scoring run to put Central up 21-14 at the half.

ANOTHER BLUE DEVILS MISTAKE

Gate City also committed a costly mistake in the second half, fumbling into the end zone on a second-and-goal run from the Central 4. At the time, the Warriors led 28-14 with four minutes left in the third period.

"It was a great football game played at an excellent place to play a high school football game," Owens said. "We just made a few more plays than they did."

GATE CITY THREATENS

The Blue Devils made it a 28-21 game later in the third period when quarterback Luke Reed connected on a 25-yard scoring pass to Carson Jenkins.

Moments later, Gate City drove to the Warriors’ 25 before turning it over on downs on a running play that resulted in a 6-yard loss.

"Our defense stepped up when it needed to," Owens said. "Now we need to get back to work and finish this thing 8-2 with a win next week (against Grundy), and then hopefully get a first-round home playoff game."

Reed scored on a pair of 1-yard keepers in the first half for Gate City, which is through for the regular season. The Blue Devils will begin preparations for the Region 2D playoffs, which are are slated to begin on Nov. 15.

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