Spartans second-half rally comes up short in 35-27 loss to Mansfield Lake Ridge
MANSFIELD — Centennial junior David Robinson started the night as the Spartans’ third-string quarterback.
But with eight seconds to play, Robinson had the Spartans within a score and a two-point conversion of tying Mansfield Lake Ridge.
Facing and fourth and 10 at the Lake Ridge 14, Robinson’s pass over the middle to Wellington Bridges found its mark but Bridges couldn’t maintain possession and the Eagles went on to a 35-27 win in a Class 5A Division I bi-district playoff game at R.L. Anderson Stadium.
The loss halted the Spartans season with a record of 5-6. Centennial was making its fourth consecutive playoff appearance.
“I don’t know that there has been a better effort from our program in a single game,” Centennial coach Kyle Geller said. “It’s a shame we weren’t able to pull it out. I told the kids I’d go to battle with them any day.”
Robinson ended the game with 133 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. He also passed for 87 yards.
“David did a fantastic job to be thrown out there in that type of position,” Geller said. “I don’t know if he took but a couple of snaps at quarterback this week. He did an unbelievable job. He was very impressive.”
Things seemed bleak for the Spartans when the Eagles scored on the last play of the first half. Jason Bean’s 30-yard scoring strike to a sliding TJ Graham gave Lake Ridge a 35-20 halftime lead.
Lake Ridge scored 28 second-quarter points to take control of the game. Bean had a hand in four of five first-half scores. The senior scored on runs of 20 and 17 yards and also threw touchdown passes of nine yards to
Malik Knowles and 30 yards to Graham. Dewone Jackson added a seven-yard touchdown run.
Bean finished the game with 124 yards on 12 carries and threw for 77 yards.
Starting quarterback Kyle Burns was injured on the seventh play of the game. Hunter Prescher replaced Burns and led the Spartans to their first score when Chris Mosely found the end zone from five yards out for a 7-0 lead.
On Centennial’s next possession, Prescher was knocked out of the game after keeping the possession alive with a diving four-yard run. Robinson, who took limited snaps in practice this week, capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run that put Centennial up 14-7.
Lake Ridge scored the next 21 points to take a 28-14 lead.
Late in the second quarter, Robinson scored from two yards out to cut the Eagles lead to 28-20. With 25 seconds to play, Bean led the Eagles down the field and was able to hit Graham on the final play of the half for a touchdown and a 35-20 lead.
In the second half, Centennial’s defense clamped down and held the Eagles’ offense out of the end zone. The Spartans forced a turnover on downs at its own 12 to open the second half and the offense took full advantage of the opportunity.
“We had three big defensive stops in the second half,” Geller said. “What more could you ask for against that team.”
On the ensuing drive, Centennial ran nine plays inside the Lake Ridge 10. A roughing the passer penalty and a pass interference penalty kept the drive alive. Mosely finished off the 16-play drive with a one-yard run.
Centennial had two more opportunities with the ball after the Spartans’ Kelton Tezeno intercepted a pass and the defense forced a punt
The Spartans second-to-last possession ended at the Lake Ridge 29 following an incomplete pass. Their last opportunity to tie the game failed at the Eagles’ 14.
“I felt good going into this game,” Geller said. “I was confident that we could move the ball and score points and if our defense could get a stop or two we’d have a chance, which they did. We came awfully close, that’s the sad part of it.
“It was a roller coaster season. It was like being in the dentist chair at times, but our kids never wavered. I think they showed great character. We have some bright days ahead of us. We were very competitive all season, but we made some rookie mistakes at times. We are just going to have to clean some things up.”