Central attempted just one pass in the second half of its football game against rival Southside on Friday night. With the way Jaylen White and Parker Phelps were running the ball, there was no need to go to the air.
The backs combined for four rushing touchdowns for the Bearcats in a 45-32 win against the Rebels at Southside. Three of those touchdowns were scored in the second half, with two of them coming in the fourth quarter.
White finished with 137 yards on 21 carries with three touchdowns. Phelps ran the ball 14 times for 127 yards and one touchdown.
“They complement each other really well,” Central coach Brad Seiss said. “They both ran really hard, followed their linemen. They did a good job, but (the) offensive line did a better job.”
Phelps also had a defensive touchdown, scoring on a 100-yard interception return, a play that gave his team a two-score lead late in the second quarter.
“It was huge,” Seiss said. “We didn’t play very well defensively, we had a lot of breakdowns, some things that, we have guys (things) that are uncharacteristic of them. So that was something that was big.”
Central maintained its lead after Phelps’ interception return for a touchdown, but Southside always remained within striking distance. Central was only able to close out the game when Southside failed to recover an onside kick with 3:33 remaining. The Bearcats used their running game on the ensuing drive to run out the clock.
Joe Williams had a 14-yard run on fourth down that allowed Central to take knees and run out the clock. He finished the game with 41 yards on four carries.
When Central did choose to pass the ball, it was efficient. Quarterback Billy Walker completed 7-of-12 attempts for 114 yards and a touchdown. He also threw an interception. Timmric Barrett was Central’s leading receiver with four catches for 62 yards and a touchdown.
While Southside was able to generate offensive yardage, it also struggled with turnovers. The Rebels threw three interceptions. Penalties were also a problem, with the Rebels committing 13 of them and giving up 97 yards.
“Our defense is on their heels, on their heels,” Southside coach Wenstone Nash said. “We’ve just got to get them to attack. Again, we’ve got a couple guys out there, new at linebacker and stuff. It’s not an excuse, but they have to attack. We have to attack the ball carriers and stop arm tackling.”
Quarterback Josh Strauch was 9-for-23 with 218 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions for Southside. Strauch also gained 177 yards on the ground and was his team’s leading rusher.
Both teams entered the game following shutout losses in the first week of the season, with Central falling to Pendleton Heights and Southside losing to Yorktown. Central is now 1-1 heading into its conference opener next week against Kokomo at home. Southside (0-2) will play at Shelbyville next week.