Centennial handed the ball to Jacobi Owens time and time again Thursday night, and the senior delivered on just about every occasion.
But when the Bulldogs needed 1 yard to preserve a 23-21 home victory over ninth-ranked Cimarron-Memorial, it was Coby Newton who got the call.
“I was thinking I work so hard every day in practice and this 1 yard is what it’s all for,” the junior fullback said. “I actually told Coach, let’s run (the fullback dive). I told him, ‘I promise I’ll get it.’ ”
Newton leaped over the line and picked up 3 yards on the fourth-and-1 play from Bulldogs’ 49-yard line with 1:31 to play, and Centennial (3-3, 3-2 Northwest League) knelt on the ball three times from there.
The Bulldogs gave little thought to punting away to a Cimarron offense that had scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
“We weren’t going to risk that,” coach Leon Evans said. “We felt like we should be able to get a few inches by running the football.”
The Spartans kept the ball in their workhorse back’s hands on their two biggest offensive plays of the final quarter. But the Bulldogs rose to the challenge.
Cimarron (4-3, 3-3) scored early in the fourth on a 1-yard run by Damaryae Williams and tried to give Williams the ball again on a 2-point conversion try that would have tied the game, but he was stopped short.
Centennial answered with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Austin Turley to Trajan Pili, but a missed extra point kept the Bulldogs’ lead at 23-15.
The Spartans came back with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Gerard Martinez to Anthony Turner. But Williams, who ran for 124 yards and a score in addition to returning a kickoff for a TD, again was stuffed on the 2-point conversion.
“Our defense just came up big when they had to,” Evans said. “… They were able to come up with two huge stops.”
Owens finished with 189 yards and a TD on 27 carries.
“Last week, I didn’t have the performance I wanted to,” he said. “So this week I wanted to come out and put the team on my back, run hard and get back to my style of football.”
The teams traded field goals in the first quarter and touchdowns in the second, but Centennial led 10-9 at halftime by blocking an extra point.
The Bulldogs extended their edge with the third quarter’s only points on a 43-yard touchdown pass by Turley to a wide-open Christopher Rodriguez.
Turley threw for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Martinez was 8 of 11 for 107 yards and a TD in the second half after failing to complete a pass on seven first-half attempts.