BLOOMSBURG - It was another case of inches not favoring the Central Mountain Wildcats as a late fourth quarter pass fell into the hands of a Central Columbia player after being tipped by a Wildcat defender.
Lewis Williams was the Blue Jay there to make the play as the Wildcats let another solid half fall to the wayside as Central Columbia pulled out a 36-23, win at Blue Jay stadium.
The Wildcats played without Tyler Pavalko, who was injured in the second quarter.
Despite the loss, the Wildcats stayed with Central Columbia, trailing by just four points at the half.
"If one of our guys goes out it changes the offensive game plan," Central Mountain coach Vinnie Kishbaugh said. "We have zero depth. We have a bunch of young kids, and we already have players playing out of position. It's frustrating, and it's been happening all year."
The Wildcats were forced to go without their leading receiver, which impacted the passing game almost immediately.
After scoring on its final possession of the first half, Central Mountain's (1-6) first second half possession ended in a turnover.
Danny Koch, who finished with 83 yards on 16 carries to go with a touchdown, jumped in front of a short pass over the middle to give the Blue Jays the ball back.
"We come out and throw an interception on the first play of the half, which we can't have," Kishbaugh said. "You can't do that if you want to be competitive and stay in football games."
The Wildcats first two interceptions were turned into points for the Blue Jays as they finished drives of 10 and 59 yards to add points.
"We talked to our secondary, because they didn't do somethings right in the first half," Central Columbia coach Jason Hippenstiel said. "We talked at halftime, they just needed the confidence. There were plays there to be made, and they did that in the second half."
Lewis' tipped ball touchdown was the final dagger for Central Columbia (3-4), which outscored the Wildcats 16-7 in the second half.
The Blue Jays jumped out to an 8-0 lead after taking their second possession 93 yards on 13 plays.
Central Mountain responded to the 93-yard drive with a scoring drive of its own.
A Bryce Bitner 13-yard pass to Cody Barner extended the drive, picking up a third-and-10. Hunter Weaver also picked up a third-and-two with a 2-yard carry.
Bitner eventually capped the drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Travis Turchetta on the first play of the second quarter.
On the next possession, Central Mountain received a brake when two high snaps resulted in a safety. Cody Bowman attempted to get the ball out of the Central Columbia endzone, but was swarmed by a group of Wildcat defenders.
Nigel English, who rushed for two touchdowns in last week's loss to Huntingdon, picked up where he left off, rushing for 47 yards in the first half and scoring a touchdown. English also caught a pass for seven yards.
Besides English's 47 first half yards, Central Mountain only gained nine yards on seven carries.
The second half was a different story as English only added six more yards to his totals.
"The defense really played well," Hippenstiel said. "We are a physical football team. We just have to make plays when they present themselves."
Moments after Central Columbia was able to gain a 20-9 edge, Central Mountain answered with a 3-play, 63-yard drive to pull within 20-16.
On the drive, Bitner completed both of his passes for 54 yards. English then finished the drive with a 9-yard run to pay dirt.
Central Columbia used two quarterbacks in the game, but Steve Shannon did the majority of damage, leading all three of the Blue Jays scoring drives in the first half.
"Shannon did a nice job of making reads," Kishbaugh said. "He's very illusive. We were arm tackling, and he just ran through it."
Shannon completed three passes in the first half, including a 58-yard pass to Williams for the Blue Jays second touchdown.
"This was really big for us, if we have any hopes of doing anything later," Hippenstiel said of the win. "We can't lose football games at this point, but the confidence is there. We completed some balls tonight and made some plays."