Timely delay for lightning revitalizes Central Catholic
First, lightning struck - twice. Then, Central Catholic brought the thunder.
District 12 power Archbishop Wood, trailing by three with 3:45 to be played, was on the verge of toppling Class AAAA No. 1 Central Catholic,following a 53-yard, play-action bomb to the Vikings' 13-yard line Sunday at the Gateway Kickoff Classic.
Moments later, lightning struck on the horizon at Antimarino Stadium. A 30-minute delay followed, and a refocused Central Catholic came up with a sterling defensive stop to preserve a 20-17 victory -- which was nationally televised by ESPN2.
"It's a team effort; everyone did their job and let me do what I had to do," said senior linebacker Gavin Sandidge, who went unblocked as he sacked Wood quarterback Joe Monaghan on third down for a 9-yard loss during the pivotal sequence, forcing a 40-yard field goal attempt that Nick Visco hooked left.
Sandidge's hit was one of three drive-stalling sacks put up by the Central Catholic defense, with the other two delivered by Arnel Farmer. The sacks highlighted a bend-but-don't-break approach against Wood, which features five players committed to Division I colleges and is the state's top-ranked Class AAA team.
"I've been doing this for 30-some years, but I actually said to someone, 'This is the best offense I've seen in a while,'" Central Catholic coach Terry Totten said. "Now, I've played bigger teams, but this was a team that moves the ball around to their different people very good."
Wood needed only two players for much of the afternoon -- senior running backs and cousins Desmon and Brandon Peoples. During Wood's four-play opening drive, Desmon carried three times for 32 yards, and Brandon sliced through the defense for a 29-yard touchdown run.
Both, however, were upstaged by Central Catholic's own big-play running back, Damion Jones-Moore. Following a sluggish start for him and his offense, the senior burst through Wood's large defensive line and dashed for a 51-yard touchdown near the end of the first quarter - a welcome sight after an injury-plagued 2010 season.
"I was working the whole offseason," said Jones-Moore, who added a 70-yard touchdown and finished with a game-high 191 yards. "I'm glad to see that it paid off."
Central Catholic took a 13-10 lead into halftime and stretched its lead to 10 points with a 13-play, 76 yard series on their first drive of the second half. Receiver Anthony Nixon turned a short pass from Perry Hills into a 33-yard score to cap the long possession.
Brandon Peoples closed the Wood deficit to three with a 19-yard run early in the fourth quarter and finished with 92 yards for the day, while Desmon had a team-high 97. But neither effort was enough against Central Catholic's timely defense.
"During the season, you're going to face adversity several times," Totten said. "So, to overcome it today was a great thing for us."
Gateway Kickoff Classic September 4, 2011
Central Catholic beats (Philadelphia) Archbishop Wood, 20-17 and Gateway is victorious over (Harrisburg) Bishop McDevitt by the score of 28-7 in the Gateway Kickoff Classic at Antimarino Stadium in Monroeville on Sunday September 4, 2011.