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The Central Falcons defeated the Paul Bryant Stampede 42-27 on Friday night, in an intense rivalry game. Compared to last year, both teams have vastly improved and the turnaround of both of these teams comes down to coach John McKenzie of Paul Bryant and coach Demario Pippin of the Central Falcons.

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The game started out fast for the home team Stampede. After holding Central to a three-and-out and a terrible punt by the punter on their first possession, Paul Bryant drove down 30 yards to put the first points on the board. On the Falcons five-yard line, Bryant quarterback Edwin Merriweather completed a five-yard pass to Miles Madden to put the Stampede up 7-0.

Central responded right back. The Central offense went three-and-out again, but unlike last time, the punter for Central drilled a punt and pinned the Stampede on its own five-yard line. Under center, Merriweather fumbled and the ball was picked up by the Central defense, tying up the game at seven.

The Falcons capitalized on the momentum by holding Paul Bryant to a three-and-out. Then, two plays later, on the Stampede 43-yard line, Central quarterback David McNeil avoided a pass rusher, sprinted out to his right, and threw a 43-yard bomb to Jalen Powell.

Both teams traded turnovers on their next possessions. First, it was Paul Bryant, who drove 53 yards before Merriweather got picked off in the end zone. Then, Central fumbled two plays later which set Paul Bryant up with an excellent field position. The Stampede capitalized on this with an 11-yard option play from Merriweather to running back James Freeman for a touchdown.

Just when Bryant was about to take all momentum into the second half, then came the Central offense. The Falcons offense went 64 yards in 12 plays capped off by a touchdown run from McNeil. Paul Bryant could not score again before halftime, therefore Central went into the break with the lead.

The second half is when the fireworks start going off. Paul Bryant got the half started by forcing Central to turn the ball over on downs around midfield. The great field position set the Stampede up for a touchdown drive that ended with Merriweather throwing a 23-yard pass to Jarell Hodges. Central responded right back with a touchdown drive of their own, capped off by a McNeil 26-yard pass to Jalen Powell to retake the lead.

Central's run game started to take control of the game. Both ShunKeith Turner and Marquis Thomas had excellent games and were the X-factor in the Falcons victory. McNeil and the Central run game drove all the way down field, gashing the Bryant defense. The drive was finished off with a McNeil touchdown run from five-yards out.

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Bryant scored one more time on a nine-yard run by Justin Morton to dim the lead to eight. Paul Bryant still had a chance, but in the end, the defense could not stop the run game of the Falcons. The dagger and final touchdown of the game was from Marquis Thomas, who ran it in from 19 yards out to put the team up by two touchdowns with 2:24 left in the game.

"Our message this week was to finish the game," said Coach Pippin. "The first two games we were up but could not finish, In week one we lost after being up 14-7, and against Woodlawn we did not finish the way we wanted even though we won."

Central improves to 2-1 in the young season. Next week, the team returns home to face the Brookwood Panthers. As for Paul Bryant, the team falls to 1-2 and host the McAdory Yellow Jackets on Friday.


 

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