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The Burlington Central football team outplayed unbeaten Harvard for much of the second half Friday night.
The Rockets allowed just 57 yards in the final two quarters, but the Hornets took advantage of one Central mistake and left Rocket Hill with a 17-13 Big Northern East victory.
Tate Miller intercepted a Central pass at the Rockets' 26 and returned it to the 18. Three plays later Jose Mejia scored on a 4-yard run for the game-winning score with 7:34 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"That was a crucial play at the time," Central coach Rich Crabel said. "Those mistakes will happen."
The Rockets (1-3, 1-1) drove the ball inside Harvard's 10 within less than 2 minutes remaining. On third-and-5 from the 9, Casey Matthews tried to make a play after his primary receiver was covered while rolling to his right. He reversed field and tried to go back to his left, but lost his footing and lost 15 yards. On fourth-and-20, Matthews hit Ian Napiorkowski for only 13 yards, turning the ball over to the Hornets (4-0, 1-0) with 1:06 remaining.
Harvard knelt down three times to end the game.
"I was trying to find my receiver, but there was five guys around him," said Matthews, who rushed for 67 yards and was 5-of-5 passing for 77 yards. "There was nowhere for me to run."
Central took a 7-0 lead with 5:33 to go in the first quarter on a Reilly Marino 1-yard touchdown run.
The Hornets got a 28-yard field goal and an 18-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Schneider to Justin Nolen in the second quarter to take a 10-7 halftime lead.
Matthews gave the Rockets the lead again, this time 13-10, with a 45-yard touchdown run with 5:49 remaining in the third quarter.
Harvard punted on its first four possessions of the second half. Following Miller's interception, Matthew Wheeler rushed twice for 14 yards to get the ball to the 4, setting up Mejia's touchdown.
"We were fortunate tonight, no doubt," Hornets coach Tim Haak said. "They are a dangerous team."