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Red Raiders score 21 unanswered points, rally for 21-12 win over Central

Junior RB/MLB C.J. Funk (8) of Bellefonte High School runs through the defense of Central High School during a high school football game on Friday, October 12, 2018. The Red Raiders defeated the Dragons, 21-12. (The Express/Tim Weight)

LOCK HAVEN — It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but after a two-game slide, Bellefonte just needed to re-enter the win column.

The Red Raiders scored 21 consecutive points following a 12-0 drought to drop the Central Dragons, 21-12, on homecoming night.

“Things will definitely be happier in the Manning house,” Bellefonte coach Shanon Manning joked after the game. “But from the kids’ standpoint, their confidence was shaken a little bit, but hopefully this win helps get things moving in the right direction.”

Bellefonte’s defense forced four turnovers in the game, but the Central’s offense dominated out of the gate .

Facing a 4th and 14 on its opening drive, the Dragon offense decided to get crafty. Central wide receiver Braden Kitt connected with Zach Imler on a 31-yard flea flicker touchdown pass to stretch Central’s lead, 6-0, with 5:27 remaining in the opening quarter.

“Bellefonte’s defense didn’t cover the flea flicker well,” Central coach David Baker said. “We just made a nice play to complete the pass for a touchdown.”

Central extended its lead, 12-0, in the second quarter after quarterback Noah Muthler rushed for a 3-yard touchdown. Muthler ended the day rushing for 41 yards and a touchdown, and threw for another 51 yards before being carted off the field in the second quarter with an arm injury.

Central’s offense was shutout after Muthler’s exit, as Bellefonte’s defense woke up the sleeping giant in Bellefonte’s offense.

Bellefonte running back CJ Funk ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 47 seconds left in the half to cut Central’s lead, 12-7.

In the second half, Bellefonte’s pass offense began to develop a rhythm. Bellefonte quarterback Ethan Rossman replaced starter Kyle Myers in the second quarter, and ended the night under center for Bellefonte. Rossman threw for 27 yards and two touchdowns. His biggest contribution was on the ground, where he rushed for 80 yards.

“I thought Rossman did a good job,” Bellefonte coach Shanon Manning said. “[The QB switch] was just one of those things where we were stagnant, and we were hoping something we would do would jumpstart the offense.”

Rossman’s first touchdown pass was a seven-yard strike to Mason Grey in the end zone to put the Raiders ahead, 14-12, with 3:09 remaining in the third period.

Bellefonte iced the game in the fourth when Rossman connected with CJ Funk for a 2-yard touchdown pass on fourth and goal to extend Bellefonte’s lead, 21-12, with 2:36 remaining in the game.

“That was a play that we run a lot in the end zone,” Bellefonte coach Shanon Manning said. “It’s something we practice 365 days a year, we felt like we could execute it and the kids did execute it.”

Following the loss, Central’s record dipped to 3-5 on the season. The offense committed 4 turnovers in the game, and the special teams unit is still searching for answers at the kicker position.

Trailing 14-12 in the fourth quarter, Central rejected a 31-yard field goal attempt and opted to attempt the 4th and 7. Quarterback Braden Kitt threw an incomplete pass and Central turned the ball over on downs.

“We haven’t tried a field goal all year,” Central coach David Baker explained. “We have not been real successful on extra points, and we had an extra point blocked tonight. We just didn’t have a lot of confidence that we could make a field goal there.”

Central (3-5) returns Friday against Huntingdon.

“They’re a decent team,” Baker said. “It’s a big rivalry for us and it’s going to be a challenge for us to beat them.”

Bellefonte (6-2) travels to Bishop Carroll on Friday.

“They run a lot of option and they’re a physical team,” Manning said. “They find a way to stay in games every single week and it gives them opportunities to win.”

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