The Tigers found a ton of success on the ground in the third quarter to blow open a close game. They rushed for 124 yards and three scores in the third quarter to gain separation from North County.
Even the Tigers' defense got into the act with a third-quarter safety in their 44-7 win.
"I think they had a big week last week as far as an emotional game," Central coach Nathan Norman said about his team's slow start. "I think they may have took some things for granted this week. Took a little longer than I would have liked for them to wake up. Things started clicking."
Mikey Jones emerged as the Tigers' main threat. He broke free for a 44-yard touchdown then a 55-yarder later in the quarter.
"They were well-blocked, which is what we like to see," Norman said about the long runs. "Then Mikey gives us a little bit of a threat. He's a big back and he's got a little bit of speed. That's always nice."
Central was fortunate to enter halftime with a 14-7 lead. The Tigers scored their second touchdown after the Raiders unsuccessfully tried to field a punt after it had bounced. The Tigers pounced on the loose ball at the North County 17-yard line.
Central quarterback Christian Cavaness made the Raiders pay for the mistake on the next play. He floated a pass to the left near pylon, where Garan Evans ran under it for Cavaness' second touchdown pass of the game.
North County had a golden chance to pull even in the final minute of the half when it had third-and-goal from the 1-yard line. But a motion penalty moved the ball back 5 yards. After an incomplete pass, the Tigers stopped Jayden Odle at the 1-yard line with 17 seconds left to maintain the lead.
North County outgained the Tigers 148 to 127 yards, but mistakes choked the Raiders. In addition to the fumble, North County (1-4) was called for a roughing the punter penalty after stopping the Tigers' opening drive.
"We were just trying to address some of the not-so-smart plays that we're continuing to make," North County coach Jeromy McDowell said about his halftime speech. "It's just kind of been the story of our season -- playing well at times and then shooting ourselves in the foot. It's getting real old right now."
The Tigers erased any doubt in the second half with the ground game. They averaged 13.5 yards per rush in the second half after averaging 4.9 yards in the first half.
"We weren't for sure who was supposed to be blocking because they came out different than we thought they'd be," Cavaness said. "We checked it up in the locker room at halftime and we got it down pretty good on that sweep. Two plays and two long touchdowns. I think we did a very good job of coming out of halftime being focused and knowing exactly what we had to do."
Long runs were a staple of Central's offense last season, but they've been harder to come by this season. The Tigers peeled off four runs of at least 25 yards Friday.
"It was very nice because we haven't had very many long runs this year," Cavaness said. "It's been driving down the field, which also is good to take some time off the clock, but to get that quick score and take everything out of the defense. Any time you get scored on that quick, it's hard to come back. Everybody starts pointing the finger."
McDowell was at a loss to explain his defense's inability to slow down Central's running game in the second half.
"It sure seemed like a lot of missed tackles," he said. "We had guys not blocked and right in the hole and not make plays. That's unacceptable."
Central's defense also clamped down in the second half. It only allowed 63 yards after halftime and recorded a safety when a wall of Tigers took down Wyatt Compton deep in the end zone.
"We started blitzing our inside backers a little bit more," Norman said. "And we started flying to the ball and playing. Our guys were a little shellshocked early. They were doing some things to us that they hadn't seen before and they kind of slowed us down. We came out the second half as a defense and flew to the ball. That was the difference."
The Tigers will try for their second consecutive 5-0 start when they travel to St. Charles West in Week 6. It will be a battle of unbeatens after St. Charles West (5-0) defeated Duchesne 30-7 on Friday.
North County 0 7 0 0 -- 7
Central 14 0 23 7 -- 44
C -- Jacob Boerboom 32 pass from Christian Cavaness (Calvin Lovig kick), 6:04
C -- Garan Evans 17 pass from Cavaness (Lovig kick), 1:13
NC -- Matt Rion 7 run (Justin Ruby kick), 9:35
C -- Cavaness 29 run (Lovig kick), 7:33
C -- Mikey Jones 44 run (Lovig kick), 5:27
C -- Wyatt Compton tackled in end zone, 1:03
C -- Jones 55 run (Lovig kick), :46
C -- Chris Martin 30 run (Lovig kick), 8:54
First downs (North County-Central) 13 14
Rushes-yards 39-123 30-268
Passing yards 84 87
Passes 8-18-0 5-10-0
Punts 5-171 3-112
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 4-32 4-50
RUSHING -- North County, Joe Swofford 3-32, Matt Rion 20-57, Seth Nickels 4-22, Wyatt Compton 9-7, Jayden Odle 1-5, Isaiah Smith 2-0. Central, Alex Davis-Carter 5-18, Christian Cavaness 5-44, Austin Martin 1-4, Mikey Jones 6-113, Jacob Campebll 4-27, Tae Jenkins 1-(-2), Chris Martin 6-60, Devon Johnson 2-4.
PASSING -- North County, Wyatt Compton 8-18-84-0. Central, Christian Cavaness 5-10-87-0.
RECEIVING -- North County, Matt Rion 1-6, Joe Swofford 1-11, Kaleb Warden 4-52, Isaiah Smith 2-15. Central, Jacob Boerboom 1-32, Tae Jenkins 1-(-1), Garan Evans 2-49, Alex Davis-Carter 1-7.