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‘Lights out’ defense leads Centennial

Durango’s football team opened the season by scoring 54 points and rushing for 356 yards against Bonanza.

Centennial’s defense made sure things wouldn’t be so easy on Friday night.

The Bulldogs limited Durango to 155 yards of offense en route to a 31-0 road victory over the eighth-ranked Trailblazers.

“They were lights out tonight,” Centennial coach Leon Evans said of his defense. “They play, and we knew that. We’ve got a great defense. We wouldn’t expect anything less than that.”

Evans said the team was excited about the opportunity to go up against Durango’s running backs. Marcus Sanders-Williams and Arie McQuaig combined for 251 yards on just 16 carries in the opener, but never got going against No. 2 Centennial (2-0).

The Bulldogs limited Durango (1-1) to 95 rushing yards. McQuaig was the most successful, gaining 62 yards on 14 carries. Sanders-Williams had 47 yards on 16 carries.

“Tonight they kind of took a personal challenge,” Evans said. “They kind of read the newspaper about how good the running game was going to be, and they took that personal. And it showed tonight.”

Centennial’s defense got put into a couple of difficult situations in the second quarter when a pair of turnovers left the Bulldogs defense on the field pretty much without a break.

First, Centennial fumbled a punt, giving Durango the ball at the Bulldogs 37. And though Durango drove to the 19, the defense held.

Centennial quarterback Austin Turley fumbled the snap on the first play of the ensuing possession, giving Durango the ball back on the Centennial 36.

But the defense didn’t allow a first down, and Durango never really threatened again.

“We just had to do our job,” senior defensive end Trajan Pili said. “Football is going to happen like that. You’re going to get turnovers, and we just had to respond to it. It’s football.”

Pili, who has committed to Brigham Young, led the charge, with two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.

“He’s our guy defensively,” Evans said. “He gets things done. He rushes the passer and he stops the run game. He’s a legitimate Division I kid, and it shows.”

Centennial’s offense sputtered for much of the night before finally getting going midway through the fourth quarter.

That’s when Coby Newton broke off a 41-yard run, which set up his own 1-yard touchdown plunge four plays later that put the Bulldogs up, 17-0.

“We just kind of stuck to the game plan and got on the perimeter a little bit more,” Evans said. “Once they took away the inside game, we got to the perimeter and made some plays.”

Deontae Gilkey then picked off his second pass of the game and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown to put the game out of reach.

Lantz Worthington added a 51-yard TD run with 2:13 to play for the final margin. Worthington scored on an 11-yard run in the first quarter.

Evans said he thought his team was able to wear down Durango, especially with McQuaig, Sanders-Williams and Gene Germain playing key roles at running back and linebacker.

“We wanted those guys to run, because we know those three guys are playing offense, defense and special teams,” Evans said. “So we wanted the guys to run sideline to sideline all night.”

Newton finished with 94 yards on 19 carries, and Worthington added 78 yards on six rushes for Centennial.

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