You could tell that it was coming.
Everything that Tyrone had done up to that point was gearing towards a drive like the one the Eagles assembled to end the third and start the fourth quarter of last night’s game against the Central Scarlet Dragons.
Tyrone had used a steady diet of Larry Glace and Mark Mingle, with just enough Levi Reihart peppered in, to set the stage for a drive put the lid on a game that meant the No. 1 seed in the District 6-AA playoffs.
Now, up 24-7, the Eagles were ready to go strictly to their ground attack.
And so it began. Glace up the middle for 2. Glace off tackle for 17. Mingle off tackle for 18. Reihart on a keeper for 11.
When it was over, Tyrone had marched 75 plays in 5-and-a-half minutes, all on runs, and scored to go ahead 31-7 on a 5-yard run by Glace.
If there was any fight left in the Dragons, that drive wrung it out like drops of water from a wet towel.
Tyrone went on to win 38-14 on Senior Night at Gray-Veterans Memorial Field, accumulating 341 yards rushing to Central’s 103.
“It feels good (to win at the line of scrimmage),” said Tyrone senior offensive lineman Jerrod Good, who found himself in some heated battles with Central defensive tackle Tyler Strayer. “Especially when there’s some chirping going on. We worked hard and were able to come out on top.”
With the win, Tyrone finished the regular season 9-1, while the Dragons ended 8-2, losing two of their last three. Combined with Clearfield’s win over St. Mary’s, the Eagles finished second in the MAC Nittany Division race with a 7-1 record, with the Dragons third at 6-2.
“(Going to the run) is always a part of the game plan, but you’ve got to get the feeling of it during the game,” Tyrone coach John Franco said. “We anticipated throwing the ball a lot more than we did tonight until we were getting four or five yards on first down. Now you go to your second-and-short plays, and we really thought we were getting a great surge from all six (of our lineman). As lone as we were getting that surge, we were going to stay with it.”
Tyrone stuck with it, all right, running on 45 of their 56 offensive plays. Glace shouldered most of the load, carrying the ball 23 times for 202 yards – both career highs – and scoring three touchdowns.
Mingle added another 49 on 8 tries, while Reihart gained 45 on 5.
That was in stark contrast to the Dragons, who came in averaging over 190 rushing yards per game behind 1,000-yard rusher Lucas Runk. Tyrone held Runk in check, with the sophomore managing just 19 yards on 9 carries. Eight of his attempts went for two yards or less.
In all, Tyrone’s defense limited the Dragons’ to 151 yards in total offense, more than 150 yards below their average production. The Eagles’ stopped four plays behind the line of scrimmage, but their biggest defensive plays were takeaways, starting in the first quarter when Mingle picked off Central quarterback Derek Forshey at the 34-yard line and returned it all the way for the game’s first score at the 2:35 mark. The first of five PAT kicks by John Shaffer made it 7-0.
Then, with Tyrone leading 21-7 in the third and Central sitting at midfield, Shaffer snagged a Forshey screen pass intended for Runk, setting up his own 25-yard field goal.
“They made a play,” said Central coach AJ Hoenstine. “Mingle is an outstanding linebacker, and he has been for quite some time. “But we needed to bounce back from that, and we didn’t. That’s why they’re good. They made plays when they needed to.”
“(The interception) in the third quarter was the key,” Franco said. “It was 21-7 and they had pretty good field position. John Shaffer has made big plays like that his whole career.”
Forshey finished 4-for-13 for 32 yards and was hounded by Tyrone’s defense most of the night.
After Mingle’s score, the Eagles held Central to a three-and-out series and took over at their own 25. They then moved 75 yards on seven plays to go up 14-0 with 9:24 left in the second quarter. The key play was a 31-yard completion to Eric Desch, who snatched the ball out of the air after it was tipped by Jordan Saylor. That set the Eagles up at the Central 20.
Two plays later, Reihart rolled right and went 11 yards to the 5, setting up Glace’s first touchdown.
Central again went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, and again punted to the 25. This time, Tyrone cashed in much quicker, with Glace taking pitch on a sweep to the left, crashing through one defender at the line of scrimmage, and then outracing Khyri Deterline to the end zone on a 75-yard run to make it 21-0.
“Our offensive line allowed us to control the tempo of the game,” Franco said. “As well as Larry ran, and Mark ran, I think our offensive line was the whole key tonight.”
Central got in the board late in the half with a 55-yard drive when the Dragons used a series of option looks to exploit Tyrone’s defense. Runk started it by taking an option pitch from Saylor 18 yards to the Tyrone 37 for his biggest gain of the night. Two plays later, Forshey kept it on the option and went 12 to the 14.
Forshey ultimately scored on a 1-yard sneak on fourth down, and Devin Miller added the PAT to make it 21-7 at halftime.
Central’s first possession of the second half ended with Shaffer’s interception and his own 25-yard kick to make it 24-7.
“When you’re down 21-7, I think it’s tough mentally more than physically,” Hoenstine said. “(Forshey) may have needed to wit another second to throw that pass. I think we had what we wanted.”
Follwoing the interception, Tyrone pieced together another 75-yard drive – the game’s decisive drive – to go ahead 31-7 on Glace’s third touchdown.
Tyrone capped its scoring when Reihart found Cody Weaver down the right sideline with a perfectly placed pass on a play-action double-move. Weaver broke Deterline’s tackle at the goal line to make it 38-7 with 6:31 to play.
The Dragons punched in a late score on a 2-yard run by Casey McConahy, set up by a 48-yard McConahy run on first down from the Central 35.
GRID TIDBITS: Reihart finished 7-for-11 for 103 yards and his ninth touchdown pass. He was also picked off for the second time this season on Tyrone last possession of the first half … Glace’s performance allowed him to climb six spots on Tyrone’s single-season rushing list, ahead of Brit Mingle, who gained 1,132 yards in 2005. Glace is now 14th with 1,208 yards.
TYRONE 38 CENTRAL 14
TYRONE 7 14 3 14 – 38
CENTRAL 7 0 0 7 – 14
T – Mingle 34 interception return (Shaffer kick) 2:35
T – Glace 5 run (Shaffer kick) 9:24
T – Glace 75 run (Shaffer kick) 8:03
C – Forshey 1 run (D. Miller kick) 3:07
T – Shaffer 25 field goal 7:15
T – Glace 5 run (Shaffer kick) 11:47
T – Weaver 32 pass from Reihart (Shaffer kick) 6:31
C – McConahy 2 run (D. Miller kick) 4:26
1st Downs 18 8
Yards Rushing 341 103
Pass Att.-Comp. 7-11 5-15
Yards Passing 103 48
Total Offense 444 151
Int. By 2 1
Fum. Rec. 0-0 0-0
Punts-Avg. 2-29.5 4-32.8
Penalties/Yards 8-40 4-18
TYRONE – Glace 23-202; Mingle 8-49; Reihart 4-45; Smith 4-34; Gault 2-7; Ripka 1-3; Clark 1-2; Franco 1-(-1).
CENTRAL – McConahy 3-50; Runk 9-19; D. Forshey 8-11; K. Miller 1-8; Ebersole 1-8; T. Forshey 1-7.
TYRONE- Reihart 7-11-103, 1 TD, 1 Int.
CENTRAL – D. Forshey 4-13-32, 0 Tds, 2 Ints.; Runk 1-2-16, 0 TD, 0 Int.
TYRONE – Desch 3-47; Weaver 1-32; Ingle 2-22; Mingle 1-2.
CENTRAL – Hardy 3-26; Cafferty 1-16; Saylor 1-6.
You could tell that it was coming.