Thursday, December 25, 2014

Football: Pegues, Lancers end drought vs. Vikings

CENTRAL 6, NORTHEAST 3 (OVERTIME)

Football: Pegues, Lancers end drought vs. Vikings

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CENTRAL 6, NORTHEAST 3 (OVERTIME)

Central coach Rich Drayton was first to be doused with ice-cold water. After that was accomplished, the joyous players, grabbing another bucket at chilly Northeast High, zeroed in on the game's hero.

"Yeah, they got me pretty good," multipurpose standout Walter Pegues said. "I tried to get away, but couldn't. It wasn't that bad. I was too caught up in the moment to really feel it."

In the granddaddy of all Thanksgiving Day games, Pegues scored from the 1 in overtime to give the Lancers a 6-3 win over the archrival Vikings and set off a wild celebration. It marked Central's first holiday triumph since 2004.

"It's crazy," Pegues said. "It's been a long, long, long time since we beat Northeast. Everybody's been waiting for this, and we finally did it."

It was a defensive slugfest in regulation, with only the Vikings, who reached the Central 16 in the late going before fumbling the ball away, coming close to putting points on the board.

"It was a battle," Pegues said. "Their defense was real aggressive. We had to take what we could get."

The 5-foot-9, 155-pound Pegues, a running back and receiver on offense, carried 18 times for 86 yards. He is also a defensive back and kick returner.

After Central (7-5) won the coin toss and elected to play defense first in the extra session, Northeast (5-7) reached the 3 (on three carries by Asa Manley) but had to settle for Tyler Gormley's 20-yard field goal.

Drayton's plan from there? "Give the ball to No. 20 [Pegues]," he said. "We weren't taking it out of his hands. That would have been foolish."

On the first play, Pegues, following backfield partner Ralph Hyland[CQ] around right end, picked up 9 yards. That was immediately followed by his left-side clincher. "We only needed 1 yard," Pegues said. "That was it."

The Lancers, slowed by injuries much of this season, trimmed the Vikings' overall lead in the series to 56-52-10. It was Drayton's first holiday win vs. Northeast in five tries. "I don't have to worry about them firing me now," the former Central and Temple star said with a laugh.

Pegues, who carries a 3.88 grade-point average and was recognized at halftime for his academic and athletic accomplishments, wore a No. 20 jersey instead of his usual No. 34.

"It's [Central senior fullback] Quinn Burke's jersey," the Mount Airy resident said. "He went down with a torn ACL in the third game of the season. It was my way of honoring him."

Pegues, who also excels as a sprinter (100 meters) and jumper (long and triple) in track and field, has drawn recruiting interest in football from Fordham, Lafayette, and Lehigh. He plans to major in communications in college.

"Outside of what he does when it comes to athletics, he's one of the nicest kids around," Drayton said.

For Notheast, who were held to 95 rushing yards on 42 attempts. Manley carried 16 times for 66 yards.

The Lancers' defense was headed by linemen Sam Reid and Steve Venago, and linebackers Brian Moseley, Blake Schwartz, and Solomon Fields.

In the third quarter, Solomon interecept a slant pass (intended for Curtis Natwan) at the Central 36.

The Lancers lost Zach Pownall, a senior tight end and defensive tackle, to a lateral collateral ligament injury in the second quarter.

"I knew we were going to win," he said afterward, walking on crutches outside of Central's locker room. "I just wish I could have made a bigger impact."

Northeast's Hakim Coles, a sophomore quarterback and defensive back, made a pair of interceptions. Fellow back Manley was involved in six tackles.

Central 0 0 0 0 6-6

Northeast 0 0 0 0 3-3

NE: FG Tyler Gormley 20

C: Walter Pegues 1 run

Rick O'Brien Inquirer Columnist
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About this blog
Rick O’Brien has been at The Inquirer since 1993, primarily covering high school sports in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Reach Rick at robrien@phillynews.com.

Rick O'Brien Inquirer Columnist
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