CENTER TOWNSHIP — New Castle knew it needed perfection Friday night.
The Red Hurricane was far from it in a 56-7 loss to Central Valley at Sarge Alberts Stadium.
New Castle (3-2) committed five turnovers, which spelled doom against the Warriors, the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A champs.
“We can’t afford to do that against anyone,” New Castle coach Joe Cowart said. “We had sloppy play and mistakes and good teams make you pay. They certainly did that. In that second quarter, they tilted the field and we gave them opportunities and they took advantage. That’s how it got away from us.”
The Red Hurricane kept Central Valley (5-0) off the scoreboard in a disjointed first quarter. However, the Warriors found their rhythm in the second frame and erupted for 35 points.
After a punt, Central Valley’s Antwon Johnson lofted a 46-yard touchdown strike to a wide-open Jayvin Thompson to open the scoring. On their next possession, the Warriors, winners of their last 17 entanglements, went up, 14-0, when Landon Alexander broke free for a 31-yard paydirt dash.
The team’s defense got the ball back on New Castle’s next possession. Bryce Wilson picked off a Chris Hood pass at the 21, which started a chaotic sequence for the ’Canes. Johnson lofted a TD pass to Jack Bible on the team’s first play. Then, New Castle fumbled away the ensuing kickoff and the Warriors pounced on it at the 15. One play later, Johnson hit Bible again for a TD and a 14-point swing in a 10-second span.
“Those guys make plays,” Cowart said. “The opportunities to make plays were there for them and they made them. We had opportunities and we squandered them continuously. We have a long way to go to get better. There’s no real silver lining in this thing. You have to wear it; you have to own it and you have to come back and get better from it.”
Alexander broke free for a 63-yard scoring run to open the second half. Central Valley added another rushing touchdown before the ’Canes broke the shutout. New Castle’s Kaevon Gardner weaved through almost every Warriors defender for an 85-yard kickoff return TD.
The ’Canes produced 40 or more points the past three weeks. However, their offense was silenced against the Warriors, ranked as one of the state’s top squads.
“We have an identity issue right now,” Cowart said. “We have to figure out who we are. We will make sure we do that this week. We will certainly figure out who we are this week — there’s no question about it.”
The urgency exists for New Castle because the ’Canes open Parkway Conference action next week at home against Montour (2-3).