Defense helps Centennial roll past Legacy

Centennial’s offense has received plenty of attention this season.

But on Friday night in a Sunset Region quarterfinal against visiting Legacy, the Bulldogs’ defense got its turn to shine.

Centennial forced five turnovers and breezed to a 41-7 win over the Longhorns. The fifth-ranked Bulldogs (8-2) will visit Bishop Gorman (11-0) in a region semifinal next Friday.

“Our defense has been playing solid all year,” Centennial coach Leon Evans said. “They started off the year kind of slow. They shut that offense down tonight, they did a great job.”

Fifth-ranked Centennial (8-2), which scores more than 35 points per game, entered the game allowing just 15.5 ppg and held four opponents to fewer than 10 points.

After the Longhorns (3-7) scored on Naim Geeslin’s 67-yard TD run just 52 seconds into the game, Centennial held Legacy to just 147 yards the rest of the game, including a mere 17 yards rushing in the second half.

Centennial answered on its first drive, going 63 yards in 13 plays, as quarterback Jamaal Evans rolled to his right and hit Kayvon Miller for a 1-yard touchdown strike.

Legacy’s 7-6 first quarter lead was short-lived however, as the Bulldogs put 21 more points on the board in the second quarter, including a pair of touchdowns in a span of 23 seconds.

After Jamaal Evans scrambled for a 3-yard TD run to give Centennial a 13-7 lead with 9:47 left in the second quarter, Justice Selmon forced Legacy running back Samuel Turner to fumble. Bryce Hampton recovered the fumble for Centennial, and one play later, Evans hit Savon Scarver with a 32-yard dart to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 20-7.

Evans finished 17 of 28 for 238 yards and four touchdowns. Scarver caught four passes for 119 yards, including three touchdowns. Kayvon Miller rushed 13 times for 95 yards, and had three receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown.

The Bulldogs racked up 482 yards of offense, but Leon Evans credited his defense for setting up the high-powered attack.

“Tishawn Barnaby, Roy Oto, Tyler Williamson, Paul Blair, Sky Rodriguez, they’re just a part of it,” Evans said. “It’s really been a team effort the whole year with those guys.”

Rodriguez, Hampton and Ryker Arroia recovered fumbles, and Demetrius Goodman and Selmon each had an interception.

“We just try to do what our coaches tell us, and follow our assignments,” Barnaby said. “As long as we execute, we make things happen. If we don’t, big plays happen. We just need to stick to our assignments.”

Said Oto: “After they ran that big touchdown on us, we knew we weren’t aligned right. After that we all got ourselves together and controlled it from there. It’s always a team effort, we all put in work and that’s how we get the ‘W.'”