CEDAR PARK, TX-- The Central Bobcats found their rhythm late in their 37-22 loss to Cedar Park on Friday at Gupton Stadium.
In their first game after senior quarterback Maverick McIvor was sidelined for the year, sophomore Malachi Brown was thrown into the fire against state power Cedar Park.
Central’s sophomore QB helped lead the Bobcats to 204 total yards of offense. Brown went 9-of-25 passing for 151 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The sophomore showed his footwork by leading the team in rushing with 44 yards, but fumbled once.
"He's tough. He's resilient," Central head coach Brent Davis said of Brown. "You know, this is his first time being the man in a 6A varsity game. That's a tough thing to do, especially as a sophomore. I think he's going to get better each and every week."
Brown struggled early in the game, not completing his first six passes. His first completion was a six yarder to Christian Gabaldon in the second quarter.
However, it wasn't just the young quarterback making mistakes for the Bobcats. After their second drive stalled at their own 42, the snap on Central's ensuing punt sailed over Ja'Vonte Counts head and he was swarmed at the Bobcat 25. Cedar Park then scored five plays later to go up 14-0.
"The first half was just a ton of mistakes," Davis said. "Every time we had a first down, we had a penalty...We've just gotta settle in and play better. We've gotta all pick up the slack and not make dumb mistakes. I think if we can do that, we'll move the ball well enough to have a good football team."
WATCH: San Angelo Central Head Coach on the game:
Brown nearly engineered a comeback in his first start, too, with some help from the defense.
The Bobcats first got on the board after Jashon Hall snagged a deflected pass and took it 60 yards the other way for a touchdown.
"Without that pick, I don't think we would have picked it up in the...second half," Hall said.
After going down 35-6 at the beginning of the second half Central rallied for a pair of touchdowns and a field goal to cut the deficit to 35-22.
"I thought we played a lot better in the second half than we did in the first half," Davis said. "We kind of settled down finally and started executing better. "
After a stop by Daylon Green on 4th and goal from the 1, Brown was called for intentional grounding in the endzone which gave Cedar Park a safety. That put the game out of reach for the Bobcats.
Davis was proud of his defense, even though the scoreboard didn't reflect a good showing.
"The defense played great," Davis said. "I know we gave up some points, but that's a team that's going to score some points."
Central falls to 2-1 on the year and will come home for homecoming against Pebble Hills next Friday.
The end of the game analysis: