By Jeremy McDonald
INDEPENDENCE, Ore.– Central had to be checked in for this Homecoming Win. West Albany didn’t make the 35-28 win easy and they had to stay with it mentally through the 15-or-so minute light outage delay, but they managed to do just that.
Chase Nelson’s 52-yard Run after the lights came back on proved to be the difference maker, one of the three by the senior and second on the ground as the Panthers, aiding in the tough victory Friday night. The Panthers third of the season and second back-to-back as they head to McKay next Saturday.
“It was a tough challenge for sure, but we’ve been focusing this whole game and this whole week, during gametime and even when we’re down we’re trying to keep our heads up and keep going,” Nelson described the game.
Central jumped out to a 14-0 lead with scores from Kohler Hernandez and were looking to go up three scores before the Bulldogs picked up an important goal line stand defensively. That sparked a 20-point turnaround that saw Demarcus Houston (80-yards) and Wyatt Lyon (four-yards) pick up receiving scores. Tyler Hart-McNally handed West Albany a 20-14 lead, following an successful two-point conversion on the next play, with a four-yard strike with 5:04 remaining in the third quarter.
Nelson threw for a pass that gave Central back the lead and cashed in on an interception from their defense to add to their lead, a Nelson 11-yard score, late in the third.. But Austin Simmons had a 38-yard reception and the two-point conversion early into the fourth quarter brought the two teams back to even-ground. The power went out in the stadium at the 7:21 mark just as the Panthers were looking for a rebuttal to the West Albany score.
Despite the roughly quarter-hour outage, the delay didn’t slow the Panthers down as their first play out of the outage they scored thanks to Nelson’s half-field run. Their defense forced a four-and-out and Central managed to burn the final six minutes off the clock, playing the old fashion ‘keep away’ to close out the one-score victory as they now prepare for the Scots next week.
“It was huge really, it’s giving us momentum for the rest of the season and it was the first time beating them in 5A since they moved to 5A and we moved up to 5A. But it was a huge momentum foru us,” Nelson said. “(McKay), they’re a good team, but we’re going to go out there and try our hardest and just do our best out there.”
Nelson rushed for112 yards while throwing for 204 yards. Hernandez contributed 158 yards on 24 carries with his two touchdowns. Hart-McNally rushed for 106 yards on the ground for West Albany, who host South Albany on Friday.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald