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Central Dragons historic season comes to an end

Tagged under: District 6, Gameday Hub, News, Playoffs

| December 2, 2022

Jeff Hoenstine rushes for a touchdown in Friday nights 21-17 loss to Belle Vernon. Photo by Leo Murray, December 2, 2022

In 2021 the Central Scarlet Dragons held on against Central Valley in the state semi-final but Landon Alexander would end it with a 98 yard touchdown run. Fast forward a year in which many didn’t know the fire in the Dragons where they faced off against another WPIAL powerhouse, Belle Vernon. This game would end in a 21-17 victory for the Leopards. 

Not only is this the end of another historic run by the Central Dragons, it is also the end to one of the best Pennsylvania quarterbacks in history. Jeff Hoenstine ends the season with over 3,800 yards passing, and 52 touchdown passes. He also adds over 700 yards rushing and 12 more scores. Hoenstine will leave a mark in the Pennsylvania football record book with the most touchdowns in a season, the most passing touchdowns in a career as well as passing for over 10,000 yards and close to 150 touchdown passes. 

Along side of Hoenstine was his favorite receiver Eli Lingenfelter. He had 95 catches for 1610 yards and 27 touchdowns. 

Going into tonight’s game Central was the underdog facing one of the best defenses in the state. After losing to Richland and Penn Cambria, Central has been on a roll throughout the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs. Right out the gate Belle Vernon would take the opening kickoff to the house for a quick 7-0 lead. Throughout the night Braden Laux would bulldoze defenders and become a problem for the Dragons. 

After taking a 14-0 lead the Dragons would claw their way back into the game. On fourth and ten Hoenstine would find Shalen Yingling for a 21 yard strike to cut the Leopards lead to 7. Hoenstine would do it himself and scamper in from 30 yards out to tie the game at 14 with a little over 9 minutes to play. 

The Dragons defense collected momentum and took possession of the ball. With two seconds left the Dragons did something a little foreign in their playbook, a field goal attempt. After no attempts last year Hunter Smith walked up, got iced twice by the Leopards and nailed a 28 yard field goal to take a 17-14 lead going into halftime. 

The second half would be nothing but problems for the Dragons. After a dominating opening second half drive the ball would be knocked out of Hoenstines hands and Belle Vernon would take over. Central had another opportunity later after a Belle Vernon touchdown but Hoenstines pass would be stripped from the receivers hands for the interception. 

With time winding down the Dragons failed to convert on fourth down but they would be revived after a Quinton Martin fumble. After a few quick plays and a highlight reception from Lingenfelter the Dragons were facing fourth down once again. From the 19 yard line Hoenstine heaved the ball towards Hunter Smith but the pass would be broken up and this would be the last play of the Central Dragons 2022 historic season and an end of an era in Martinsburg, Pa.

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