Central Catholic's Amir Edwards eludes the Perrysburg defense to score in the first quarter, one of four touchdowns for the senior.
Perrysburg struck first in its home football opener Friday night at Steinecker Stadium, but it was all Central Catholic after that in a 35-7 Fighting Irish nonleague victory.
Senior running back Amir Edwards carried 23 times for 167 yards, including touchdown runs of 41, 12, 4, and 14 yards as Central moved to 3-0 entering Three Rivers Athletic Conference play next week.
The Yellow Jackets, who were outgained 344-130 in total offense, dropped to 2-1 entering their Northern Lakes League opener at Springfield on Friday.
Lightning ended the game with less than five minutes to play.
"We knew they were going to come in and try to pack the box and take away the running game," Central coach Greg Dempsey said of his team's pivotal strategic adjustment to the Perrysburg defense. "We didn't adjust quick enough. But once we got that going we were okay.
"We knew they'd be ready to go. This was their home opener, and they felt they should've had one on us last year. They played us tough."
PHOTO GALLERY: Central Catholic vs. Perrysburg
Perrysburg took advantage of a short field after an Irish punt to score the game's first touchdown.
After completing a 3rd-down-and-11 pass for 13 yards to Austin Bishop, Jackets quarterback Steve Slocum went back to Bishop on the next play.
This one was a 33-yard TD strike down the left sideline, and Perrysburg led 7-0 with 6:53 left in the first quarter.
Central Catholic's Paul Moses breaks away from the Perrysburg defense. The junior had two catches for 28 yards.
Central, which had failed to gain a first down in its first three possessions, drove 61 yards on six plays to tie the game on its fourth series.
Edwards took a handoff through a big hole in the middle of the line, cut left, and continued on for his 41-yard TD run with 2:25 left in the first quarter.
Just when it appeared Perrysburg might take that 7-7 tie to halftime, a miscue enabled the Irish to pull ahead.
Facing a 3rd-and-10 situation, Slocum passed over the middle, and was intercepted by Central's Joseph Solomon, who returned the pick 36 yards to the Jackets' 12.
"It was one of those things where Steve got antsy and just threw it blind without concentrating on what he needs to do, and he just made a bad throw," Perrysburg coach Matt Kregel said. "A team like Central, if you give them one leg up on you like that, it's going to be hard to come back from."
On the next play, Edwards took a pitch left and covered those remaining 12 yards, and the Irish were up 14-7 just two minutes before halftime.
"That was great," Dempsey said. "We did a little change-up in the coverage, and Joe Solomon did exactly what he was supposed to do. That was a huge play, and a big play for a senior to step up and make.
"They went into the half down a touchdown, we came out [in third quarter] and the defense got a stop, and then we were able to put another one on the board."
Central's first drive of the third quarter resulted in a 21-7 lead. Following Derich Weiland's 19-yard punt return to the Irish 48, Central needed just four plays to reach the end zone.
Perrysburg quarterback Steve Slocum is pressured by Central's Chris Green. Slocum was harassed all night but still finished 14-of-30 passing for 117 yards.
Kizer opened the drive with a 17-yard completion to Paul Moses and closed it by connecting with tight end Keith Towbridge on a 32-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline.
Edwards would add two more touchdowns on the night.
He capped a 64-yard drive with his four-yard scoring run with 4:45 left in the third quarter and concluded a 44-yard drive on the 14-yarder around left end on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 35-7 Irish lead.
"They were just loading the box on us, and the linemen weren't getting a good push," Edwards said of Central's slow start against the Perrysburg defense. "We had to come out in the second half and get a good push. That's all we needed. We didn't really change a lot. We just kept fighting, and kept moving forward."
Kizer was 9-of-15 passing for 128 yards, while Slocum finished 14-of-30 for 117. Central rushed for 216 yards and limited the Jackets to 13 net rushing yards on 19 attempts.
"They're about 280 pounds across the board [on offensive line], and we're not," Kregel said of Central's edge on the ground. "Our guys played hard defensively, but we're not moving the ball on offense right now."
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org 419-724-6461, or on Twitter @JungaBlade.
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