Team effort tames Wolves
MANSFIELD - Other than a couple of lapses on kickoff coverage, Centennial’s turned in an all-around effort Friday night as the Spartans turned in big plays on offense, defense and special teams.
In the end result was a 49-26 playoff-opening victory for the Spartans over Mansfield Timberview in a Class 5A Division II Region II bidistrict playoff game at Vernon Newsom Stadium.
“I told the kids in the playoffs it’s about attention to detail and making plays and our kids made plays tonight,” Centennial coach Kyle Geller said. “I’m thrilled that we came out of there with a win. Our kids came to play. They rose up. Other than those kickoffs, they played good.”
The win hurls Centennial (10-1) into an area-round meeting with Dallas South Oak Cliff (8-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Midlothian Stadium. The winner of the contest will face the winner of the Frisco Lone Star (10-1) and Mesquite Poteet (8-3) game.
The Spartans jumped out to a 13-0 lead early in the second half thanks in part to a big plays on special teams and defense.
“The defense played great,” Geller said. “We forced some turnovers. They moved the ball sometimes but our guys toughed it out and made some stops. The defense gave up two touchdowns and that’s not bad.”
After Jailon Freeman blocked a 37-yard field goal on Timberview’s first possession, the Spartans moved the ball 69 yards on 10 plays to take a 6-0 lead on fullback Darrell Williams 12-yard run. Williams’ 4-yard run capped a one-play drive following Andrew Walker’s 40-yard interception return.
Williams had a nice game for the Spartans carrying 18 times for 128 yards. Geller always wants to establish the fullback, the Spartans line did just that breaking Williams free for six carries of 10 yards or more.
The offense also took advantage of what the Wolves defense was giving them.
“They basically put all their chips on the table and said they were going to stop the outside run game,” Geller said. “We were able to get through the line and get big chunks of yardage.”
For the night, Centennial rushed for 308 yards on 46 carries and quarterback Payton Strambler completed 4-of-8 passes for 107 yards and a pair of scores. Strambler also score twice on runs.
Leading 13-7 Centennial doubled up on the Wolves as Strambler scored on a two-yard run and Kelton Tezeno added a six-yard run with 20 seconds to play.
Trailing 28-7 Timberview’s Jalen Knox returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a score on the final play of the first half.
A fumble recovery on the Wolves second play of the third quarter turned into a 35-14 lead when Strambler converted a fourth-and-six with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Xander Richarrds.
Timberview took away any momentum the Spartans had built when Tre Davis’ 80-yard kickoff return sliced Centennial’s lead to 35-20.
Jacob Jackson’s fumble recovery gave Centennial the ball midway through third quarter. The Spartans made the most of the opportunity when Strambler found Richards open for a 37-yard touchdown. Richards caught three passes for 82 yards and a pair of scores.
“The thought the key to game was going to be our ability to complete a few passes and that’s what happened,” Geller said.