MHC FOOTBALL - Central Catholic puts together perfect first half to take out Gophers 37-13
by: David Ball Central Catholic quarterback Aiden Wilder eludes a crowd of Gophers during the first quarter of the Rams 37-13 win Thursday night at Hillsboro Stadium.

HILLSBORO - Central Catholic's offense was rolling at high speed and was going to crush anything that got in its way. On Thursday night, Gresham happened to be the team in its path. The Rams turned all six of their first-half drives into points and ran away with a 37-13 victory.

Rams' QB Aiden Wilder caused the Gresham defense fits all night long with shifty runs that kept the chains moving. He found the end zone twice in the first quarter, highlighted by a goal-line play that saw him dodge two tacklers in the backfield and squirt through the middle for a 3-yard TD that put Central up 17-7.

'Both of our quarterbacks were able to improvise and make some great plays tonight,' Rams coach Steve Pyne said.

Gresham tried to answer when QB Dillon Shields let loose with a perfect throw just as he was hit. Hunter Busse made an over-the-shoulder grab down the middle of the field for a 39-yard gain that put the Gophers in scoring position. But the drive stalled out and the ball went back over to the Rams when a 4th-and-18 pass fluttered to the turf.

The Gophers were on the verge of getting a reprieve when Devauntae Hoffman lowered his shoulder pads into Rams' running back Hayward Demison and popped the ball loose.

Gresham recovered, but a facemask penalty cancelled the turnover.

Demison eventually found the end zone from 19 yards out pushing the Rams lead to 24-7.

Central stayed on the attack, picking up a 4th-and-6 on its next drive when Lawrence Wilson fought off tight coverage on the sideline for an 8-yard catch. Beau Duronslet scored from 11 yards out on the next play.

'They never had to punt until late in the game. We never really stopped them, and playing from behind doesn't suit our style very well,' Gresham coach Todd Nagel said. 'Turning the ball over five times didn't help either.'

The Rams got the ball back with less than three minutes to go in the half, but they weren't about to run out the clock.

'Our goal is to get 70 or 80 plays in each game,' Pyne said. 'We want to play fast and push the pace.'

Gresham was in prime position to get a stop when a penalty sent Central back into a 2nd-and-20. But the Rams moved the chains in just one snap, handing off to Demison for a 22-yard gain on a draw play through the middle.

Central QB Ben Cook finished the drive with a 39-yard scoring strike to Demison, who tiptoed the sideline the final 5 yards to the end zone.

The Rams went into the locker room in command 37-7.

Gresham would need a pack of big plays to get back into this ballgame.

Lane Stickell provided one of those when he took the second-half kickoff back 45 yards to near midfield. But the Gophers fumbled on their first play from scrimmage - one of three second-half turnovers that doomed any thoughts of a come back.

The win keeps Central Catholic (3-0) tied with Barlow (3-0) atop the Mount Hood Conference standings. Those teams meet in the final game of the regular season Oct. 28, at Jeld-Wen Field.

Gresham held a brief 7-3 lead after reaching the end zone on its opening possession. Facing 3rd-and-5, Shields fired a pass over the middle where tight end Spencer Kelley tipped the ball to himself just beyond the first-down marker, secured the catch and ran another 50 yards down field.

The Gophers tried to pound it in from there, but were stuffed on a run over the right side. Shields lined up in the shotgun for the next snap, but handed off to Hoffman who powered through the middle for a 12-yard score.

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