BROOKSVILLE — Central gave Crystal River all it could handle on Friday night. Unfortunately for the Bears it was not enough as Crystal River kicked a 38-yard field goal with 5:04 left to steal a 13-12 victory.
The Pirates (2-0) caught the Bears (0-2) off guard on the opening kickoff when they won the toss and promptly elected to punt, then perfectly executed an onside kick that Crystal River recovered on Central's 44. Though the Pirates were unable to punch the ball in the end zone they did come away with points when Joseph LeFleur converted a 22-yard field goal.
As the final seconds of the first quarter wound down, the Bears worked their way down the field and appeared poised for a score. But as the second quarter opened, Central, facing a third and goal on the Crystal River 1, fumbled. The ball sailed into the air and landed in the waiting arms of Crystal River's Cody Thomas, standing 5 yards deep in the end zone.
The Pirates then took just eight plays to go 80 yards that ended on a 12-yard touchdown run by Willie Jackson (32 carries for 169 yards).
Central returned the ensuing kickoff to the Crystal River 29. Two plays later Jeremy Williams scored from 7 yards out but the deficit remained 10-6 when Central had a bad snap on the extra point. In the fourth quarter Josh Burkhardt called his own number and plowed his way in from the 3-yard line for the go-ahead score. Leading 12-10 Central opted for the two-point conversion, which Crystal River squashed.
On Crystal River's ensuing possession, it put together a 14-play drive that was kept alive when the Pirates recovered two of their own fumbles. Facing a long fourth and 6 on the Bears' 21-yard line, Donnie Dewees kicked a 38-yard field goal.