Aubrey Nellems powers Shadow Ridge over Centennial

With a difficult three-game Northwest League schedule to close the season, Shadow Ridge’s football game got an important road win Friday night to set themselves up for a run to the playoffs.

The Mustangs took control early, and star back Aubrey Nellems scored the first of his three touchdowns to complete an eight-play, 79-yard drive in the first quarter that set the tone in a 37-7 final over Centennial.

“We battled hard against a pretty good team and got the ‘W,’ ” Shadow Ridge coach Travis Foster said. “We’ve kind of got murderer’s row coming up (Faith Lutheran, at Palo Verde, Legacy), we win and we’re in. That’s the situation we want to be in.”

The Mustangs (5-1, 2-1 Northwest League) really got methodical after their first score, going the length of the field on a 13-play drive capped by Kaejin Smith-Bejgrowicz running in from 9 yards out with 9:59 remaining in the half. The following drive, this one 90 yards, was finished by quarterback Kody Presser from 1 yard out.

On the Mustangs’ second drive of the half, Nellems appeared to be in pain after walking back to the huddle, leaving the field after something appeared to fly into his eye. He returned for the next series, which concluded with him tearing through the defense on fourth-and-1 for a 56-yard touchdown.

“We’re playing in the desert, there’s no grass out here,” Foster said. “A quick rinse and he was good. What we do is pretty simple and straightforward, but we tend to complicate it at times. But when we simplify it and do what we’re supposed to do, he’s as good as there is.”

Shadow Ridge took advantage of a muffed punt to set up Nellems’ final score early in the fourth quarter, this time from 8 yards out. The Bulldogs, who’d been hampered for much of the night by penalties and drops, made some corrections on their final drive, and Vlad Plotnikov hit Farries Gardner to close the scoring and escape the shutout.

Nellems finished with 215 yards on 25 carries for Shadow Ridge, with Presser rushing for another 100 yards and a score.

Plotnikov passed for 94 yards and rushed for 34 for Centennial (0-6, 0-4), and Jordan Smith led the ground attack with 81 yards on 11 carries.

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