SJ Central stymies Liberty North

By Tom Hanrahan The St. Joseph News-Press
Posted: October 1, 2016 - 12:02 AM

For Central, Friday’s outcome came down to Cade Musser’s hands.

After dropping a third-quarter interception in his own end zone, the Indians junior came up with a key reception and the game-sealing interception in a 24-12 win over Liberty North at Noyes Field.

With time running down in the fourth quarter, Musser grabbed a third-and-long pass from senior quarterback Dawson Page to keep alive a possession and further eat the game clock. Then, with just 1 minute to play, he made good on his earlier drop with a pick of the Eagles’ Jake Van Dyne and send his team into the victory formation.

“I wanted another chance and I got it,” Musser said. “I was doing my best to score, but I knew the situation that I didn’t need to push it too much.

“I knew we just had to come out and kneel on it and that is the best feeling in sports, no question.”

Musser wasn’t the only playmaker that notched the win for Central (2-5, 1-3 Suburban Red).

Izzy Smith racked up 134 of his 160 rushing yards in the second half as the Indians built their margin of victory after the break and toughed out a final frame that was scoreless for both teams.

Liberty North (2-5, 2-3) didn’t want to go away quietly, however.

With all the points already on the board, the Eagles faced a crucial fourth-and-six situation with 5:15 to play.

Van Dyne dropped back to pass knowing he needed a conversion to keep his team in the game. He didn’t get it.

Instead, Smith broke through on a corner blitz and dropped the Liberty North freshman for a sack.

From there, it became a game of keep away and milking the clock for the Indians.

“It’s gigantic,” Central coach Phil Pitts said about the win. “We talked all the time about how close we know we have been and how close we were to turning that corner.

“I think that happened tonight.”

At halftime, it appeared to be anyone’s ball game.

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