DeWITT — With its starting quarterback and 6-foot-6 receiving target sidelined with injuries in the second half, Central DeWitt learned something about itself Friday.
The Sabers discovered the teamwork it takes to be successful, holding off Center Point-Urbana for a season-opening 20-10 victory at Birney Field.
"We’ve got a lot to work on, and there were times when we didn’t look good at all, but we kept it together and earned the win," coach Ryan Streets said.
Central DeWitt rode the strength of its line and fullback Zach Hinkle and the leg of kicker Landon Peterson to hold off the Pointers.
Hinkle rushed for 47 of his 82 yards in the second half, helping the Sabers hold onto a lead they had held since the first quarter.
Peterson provided the Sabers with their only points after that, connecting on 24-yard field goal late in the second quarter to give Central DeWitt a 17-7 halftime advantage and having just enough leg to hit from 35 yards with 3 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the game to provide a little insurance after Center Point-Urbana had pulled within 17-10.
"He got it over, and that’s what mattered," Streets said. "It gave us a little room to breathe."
The Sabers needed that after the Pointers’ Keegan Walker had hit a 23-yard field goal with 10:37 to play, following a scoreless third quarter with points that pulled Center Point-Urbana within a touchdown, settling for a field goal after failing on three downs after gaining first-and-goal on the final play of the third quarter.
Ethan Pierce turned away the Pointers’ final attempt, intercepting a tipped pass with 1:47 remaining to let the Sabers and quarterback Johnny Samora run out the clock.
Samora took the field after an ankle injury ended the start of Henry Bloom under center.
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Bloom threw for 141 of his 156 passing yards in the first two quarters to send Central DeWitt to a 17-7 lead at the break.
"Henry Bloom did a pretty darn good job running our offense, making good decisions," Streets said. "It was a good first start for him."
Quickly answering a score by the Pointers in the game’s opening minutes, Bloom hit Caleb Pace on the right flat for a 61-yard score, which left the teams tied 7-7 with 8:31 to go in the first quarter.
Bloom, who completed 6-of-11 passes before exiting with an injury in the third quarter, then found 6-foot-6 target Logan Paulsen twice on the Sabers’ next possession after an 18-yard punt gave Central DeWitt the ball on the 31-yard line.
After connecting with Paulsen for a 7-yard gain, he found the senior open in the end zone for a 27-yard score and a 14-7 Sabers advantage with 5:24 remaining in the opening quarter.
Central DeWitt added to its lead with 1:20 to go before halftime, using a 22-yard pass play to Tucker Kinney and a 14-yard carry by Hinkle on a nine-play drive which ended with the 24-yard field goal by Peterson.
The Sabers rallied after the Pointers put the first points of the game on the board, taking advantage of a Kade Van Gorder punt block which gave Center Point-Urbana possession on the 13-yard line.
Two plays later, Alex Wade scored on a 12-yard carry as the Pointers took a short-lived lead just over two minutes into the opening quarter.
"The block, we didn’t get off to the start we wanted to," Streets said. "But we hung in there and we get to keep working at it."