OREGON — Central Catholic ran wild on Clyde in Friday night’s Division III second-round football playoff contest, and solved the Fliers’ passing attack after halftime in rolling to a 45-27 victory at Clay’s Memorial Stadium.
Dallas Fields rushed 29 times for 165 yards and four touchdowns, and Devon Rivers ran 13 times for 192 yards and two TDs before leaving late in the first half with an injury, as the Irish racked up 492 yards on the ground.
Central Catholic's Dallas Fields is stopped on the run by Clyde's Josh Jenne in the first half of Friday's second round playoff game at Oregon Clay.
“When Devon Rivers went down it was next man up,” Fields said of being pressed into full-time two-way duty at linebacker and running back. “I just had to fill in his shoes and keep going.
“The offensive line really came through tonight, and our offense started clicking. The defense struggled at times, but we locked it down and the offense really got it going.”
Central (10-2), which has now advanced to a regional final for the sixth straight season, will face Bay (12-0) at a site to be determined on Friday.
The Irish were able to pull away from a 28-21 halftime lead after shutting down Clyde’s passing game, limiting the Fliers to 52 yards in the air after the break.
VIDEO: Central Catholic-Clyde
“We got things going early in the run game, and you need that this time of year whether you’re a run team or not,” Central coach Greg Dempsey said. “Those guys were awesome. Devon did a great job in the first half, and Dallas came on in the second half.
“They both had some great blocking in front of them. I’m really proud of our effort up front tonight. On defense, we just have to be more locked in from the start.”
Central gained some breathing room with 5:26 left in the third quarter on Jerod Landrum’s 25-yard field goal, then extended its lead to 38-21 when Fields capped a 39-yard drive on a one-yard plunge with 2:05 left in the third.
That score was set up by Jaron Swain’s interception of Clyde quarterback Trevor Burtch.
The Fliers stayed alive on Burtch’s five-yard TD pass to Logan Riehl with 9:16 remaining in the game, but Mason Johnson’s extra-point kick missed, and Clyde still trailed 38-27.
Central then closed out any hope of a Fliers comeback when Swain returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards to the Clyde 28, setting up Fields’ 15-yard scoring run around right end for the final margin with 6:34 left.
“We just didn’t make enough plays and get enough things to go our way,” Clyde coach Ryan Carter said. “It’s tough. When you play a team like that, you have to make all the plays, and you don’t have any room for error, offensively or defensively.
“I thought we played well tonight, but there were some plays that were left out there that we could’ve made but didn’t. Give them credit. They’re pretty good. They have some special athletes.”
In a first half that boiled down to Central’s run game versus Clyde’s passing attack, the Irish emerged with a 28-21 halftime lead but having missed a golden opportunity for a 14-point lead just before the break.
Burtch torched the Central secondary for 187 first-half passing yards on a 12-of-21 aerial effort that included two TD strikes.
The first of those opened the game’s scoring after Central’s Sean Blue was hit in the back by a Fliers punt, setting up the Fliers at the Irish 30. Burtch hit Riehl on a three-yard TD pass, and Clyde led 7-0 with 6:56 left in the first quarter.
Central, which rushed for 357 first-half yards, wasted no time pulling even. Rivers bolted 70 yards for a TD just 57 seconds later.
Rivers then capped a 62-yard Central drive on a seven-yard TD run for a 14-7 edge with 2:47 left in the first quarter.
The Fliers answered with 1:08 left in the first quarter on a 58-yard bomb from Burtch to Carson Rieman as Clyde tied the game 14-14.
Central would then get scoring runs of four yards and one yard from Fields in the second quarter to take a 14-point lead, but Clyde used Burtch’s 49-yard pass to Riehl to set up Braydi Clark’s one-yard TD dive 2:03 before halftime.
Central ended the half unable to punch the ball into the end zone on four tries from the inside the Fliers’ 3 as time ran out.
But, that mattered little by game’s end.
The Irish topped Clyde (9-3) 523-270 in total offense.
Burtch finished 19-of-34 for 230 yards and three TDs.
CORRECTION: This story inadvertently stated Central Catholic would be playing Parma Padua Franciscan. The story has been corrected to say Central Catholic will be playing Bay.
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