For The News Courier
ARDMORE — A red-hot Gavin Calder wasn’t enough to cool off streaking Central-Florence as the Wildcats powered past Ardmore 33-18 Friday night in the region finale for both teams.
Central (7-2, 5-2 Class 4A, Region 8) has clinched the third seed in the region and will play a road game in the first round of the state playoffs Nov. 5.
Ardmore (3-6, 2-5) looks to play the spoiler in the season finale at home against county rival Tanner, the undefeated third-ranked team in Class 2A.
With the help of relentless blocking from his offensive line and senior wingback Cody Bigoney, Calder bulldozed his way to a season-high 301 yards on 39 carries and three touchdowns against a Central defense that focused exclusively on trying to stop the senior running back.
Calder has totaled 21 touchdowns (19 rushing, two receiving), scored at least once in eight of nine games and eclipsed the 200-yard mark three times.
The Wildcats were clinging to a 14-6 lead at halftime before scoring 19 unanswered points in the second half.
After a scoreless opening quarter, Calder gave the Tigers a 6-0 advantage with a 7-yard run up the middle with 11:25 left in the second quarter. The extra point attempt failed.
Central countered with a 31-yard touchdown rumble by Murphy Harrison and an extra point from Christopher Petty to lead 7-6 with 9:30 remaining in the second. Dylan Hoge put the Wildcats ahead 14-6 at halftime with a 4-yard touchdown run with 2:54 left in the first half.
In the third quarter Harrison scored from the 3-yard line, Daniel Hayes ran for a 17-yard score and Petty was 1 of 2 on PATs to put Central ahead 27-6.
Hayes put the game out of reach when he broke free for a 35-yard touchdown with 11:57 left in the fourth quarter.
Calder added a 2-yard touchdown with 6:25 remaining in the fourth, followed by a failed two-point conversion attempt, and a 3-yard score on the last play of the game.