Ohio’s top-ranked Division II team — averaging 50 points per game — moved to 8-0 overall, 5-0 in the TRAC behind a run-pass balance that torched the Titans for 486 total yards.
Senior running back Amir Edwards rushed 30 times for 179 yards and three touchdowns, and junior quarterback DeShone Kizer was an efficient 12-of-14 passing for 187 yards and one score. He added a 36-yard run for Central’s final TD.“We knew they were going to come out and give us their best,” Kizer said of St. John’s. “It’s a rivalry game. We decided we were going to execute on our roles, and all of our guys did their jobs.
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Senior running back Amir Edwards rushed 30 times for 179 yards and three touchdowns, and junior quarterback DeShone Kizer was an efficient 12-of-14 passing for 187 yards and one score. He added a 36-yard run for Central’s final TD.
“We knew they were going to come out and give us their best,” Kizer said of St. John’s. “It’s a rivalry game. We decided we were going to execute on our roles, and all of our guys did their jobs.
“We know, if we all do our jobs, we’re going to come out with a victory.”
The Irish have shown they can win and win big with a pass-heavy attack (56-19 over Clay), by almost exclusively running the ball (56-27 over Findlay), and do a fair amount of both, as on this night (299 yards rushing, 187 passing).
“We were able to mix it up and hit some things downfield,” Central coach Greg Dempsey said. “That was a big part of our game plan because we knew they were going to come in and try to stop the run.
“DeShone’s real good at throwing the football, and that’s something we’ve been working on a lot for when we needed it. Tonight we needed it. It’s great to bring balance to the offense.”
The Irish face rival St. Francis de Sales next Friday, and finish at home against Whitmer (8-0, 5-0).
One concern Dempsey may be an Irish defense that surrendered a 20-of-34 passing effort from Eastern Michigan-bound Titans senior quarterback Brogan Roback, who threw for 273 yards and three TDs.
Roback’s top target was wideout Liam Allen (10 catches, 181 yards) who had scoring recptions of 65 and 34 yards in the third quarter, when St. John’s got within 35-21.
“You run across college quarterbacks only so often, and the good ones like him are going to hit their shots,” Dempsey said. “You’d better be ready for it, and you can only try to minimize it.
“Liam Allen is one of the most underrated kids in town. That was a two-man show for a while tonight.”
The Irish capitalized on a St. John’s turnover for the game’s first TD.
On their first play, the Titans (3-5, 3-2) shifted into a wildcat formation and wideout Tony Harper took a shotgun snap, carried seven yards, and lost a fumble at his 20.
Edwards went four yards for a TD, and the Irish were up 7-0 just 1:53 into the game.
Central then used10 plays to cover 69 yards and take a 14-0 lead. Kizer was 3-for-3 for 38 yards on that march, and Paul Moses (nine carries, 52 yards) ran 10 yards for the TD with 4:02 left in the first quarter.
Central made it 3-for-3 on scoring drives, this time covering 88 yards on 10 plays with Edwards adding his second four-yard TD run 1:06 into the second quarter.
The Titans, helped by two Central penalties totaling 30 yards, mounted their own 62-yard scoring drive to get within 21-7. Roback connected with Craig Mays on a two-yard TD pass to the right corner of the end zone with 4:24 left in the half.
That was enough time for Central to add its fourth TD before the break.
Kizer was 4-for-4 for 63 yards on this drive, which was capped on his 13-yard scoring strike to Michael Anderson (five catches, 72 yards) with 48.7 seconds left in the half.
“It felt good [to pass more],” Anderson said. “Earlier in the season we didn’t throw the ball that much. We’re a moving train. We feel we have a good team, and we can go far.”
St. John’s threatened to score, triggered by a 40-yard kickoff return by Allen. Two Roback completions totaling 30 yards got the Titans to the Irish 25, but he was intercepted in the end zone by Central safety Mitchell Cochell, and the Irish to a 28-7 lead to the break.
“They have a lot of weapons,” Titans coach Doug Pearson said. “You’re worried about Amir Edwards and you’re packing the box, and then they hit [Michael] Anderson on a 12-yard hitch. No question — they’re a very good football team.
“I felt we left some points on the field in the first half, and fumbling right away certainly didn’t help. We possibly could have had 14 more points in the first half. We’ve got to tackle better. That’s the bottom line on defense. And, offensively, we’ve got to finish drives.”
Contact Steve Junga at:firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6461 or onTwitter @JungaBlade.