Central gets past Northeast

Central's Solomon Fields (center) celebrates an interception with Walter Pegues (left). Tyquil Seibert is at right. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Central's Solomon Fields (center) celebrates an interception with Walter Pegues (left). Tyquil Seibert is at right. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Posted: November 30, 2013

Central coach Rich Drayton was the first to be doused with ice-cold water. After that, the joyous players, grabbing another bucket at chilly Northeast High, zeroed in on the game's hero.

"Yeah, they got me pretty good," multipurpose standout Walter Pegues said. "I tried to get away, but couldn't. It wasn't that bad. I was too caught up in the moment to really feel it."

In the granddaddy of all Thanksgiving Day games, Pegues scored from the 1-yard line in overtime to give the Lancers a 6-3 win over archrival Northeast and set off a wild celebration. It marked Central's first holiday triumph since 2004.

"It's crazy," Pegues said. "It's been a long, long, long time since we beat Northeast. Everybody's been waiting for this, and we finally did it."

It was a defensive slugfest in regulation, with only the Vikings, who reached the Central 16 late before fumbling the ball away, coming close to putting points on the board.

"It was a battle," Pegues said. "Their defense was real aggressive. We had to take what we could get."

The 5-foot-9, 155-pound Pegues, a running back and receiver on offense, carried 18 times for 86 yards. He is also a defensive back and kick returner.

After Central (7-5) won the coin toss and elected to play defense first in the extra session, Northeast (5-7) reached the 3 (on three carries by Asa Manley) but had to settle for Tyler Gormley's 20-yard field goal.

Drayton's plan from there?

"Give the ball to No. 20 [Pegues]," he said. "We weren't taking it out of his hands. That would have been foolish."

On the first play, Pegues followed backfield partner Ralph Hyland around right end and picked up 9 yards. That was immediately followed by his left-side clincher.

"We only needed 1 yard," Pegues said. "That was it."

The Lancers, slowed by injuries much of this season, trimmed the Vikings' overall lead in the series to 56-52-10. It was Drayton's first holiday win against Northeast in five tries.

"I don't have to worry about them firing me now," the former Central and Temple star said with a laugh.

Pegues, who carries a 3.88 grade-point average and was recognized at halftime for his academic and athletic accomplishments, wore a No. 20 jersey instead of his usual 34.

"It's [Central senior fullback] Quinn Burke's jersey," the Mount Airy resident said. "He went down with a torn ACL in the third game of the season. It was my way of honoring him."

Pegues, who also excels as a sprinter and jumper in track and field, has drawn recruiting interest in football from Fordham, Lafayette, and Lehigh. He plans to major in communications.

"Outside of what he does when it comes to athletics, he's one of the nicest kids around," Drayton said.

Central 0 0 0 0 6 – 6

Northeast 0 0 0 0 3 – 3

NE: FG Tyler Gormley 20

C: Walter Pegues 1 run (no attempt)


robrien@phillynews.com

@ozoneinq

www.inquirer.com/ozone

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