Centennial’s football team took its time getting going Friday night at Shadow Ridge.
Once quarterback Juan Rodriguez found a groove near the start of the second quarter, darting 46 yards while eluding three Mustangs defenders for a touchdown, he took control of the game and led the Bulldogs to a 62-14 win.
“Juan is a big part of what we do offensively. He’s a special athlete,” Centennial coach Leon Evans said. “He led us tonight and did a good job making things happen for us.”
Rodriguez accounted for 272 offensive yards and six touchdowns (four passing and two rushing), as he was 7-for-10 passing for 167 yards and led all rushers with 105 yards on 13 carries for the No. 3 Bulldogs (7-0). Rhamondre Stevenson ran for 94 yards on 14 attempts and scored two TDs.
“The coaches all tell me to trust my instincts and if I find that I can run the ball, then to run it,” Rodriguez said. “Our offense did a good job of blocking today, Mondre did a good job running, so I just have to thank my offense for letting me do what I had to do tonight.”
After a sluggish first quarter, Centennial outscored the Mustangs 27-7 in the second quarter to take a 34-7 lead at halftime. The Bulldogs took advantage of Shadow Ridge’s failed fake punt attempt from its own 25-yard line, as Rodriguez hit Juan Puentes on a 25-yard scoring strike to go ahead 21-0. The Mustangs scored on their next drive, as Chris McDearmon ran 58 yards for a score, but Centennial answered right back when Stevenson scored from 20 yards out.
After the Mustangs (2-5) fumbled on their first play of the next possession, Centennial went 20 yards in two plays when Dylan Hite made a nifty catch on the sidelines at the 2-yard line and was able to reach the ball across the goal line as he fell out of bounds for a touchdown.
“We just needed to get the ball in the (red) zone,” Evans said “We move the ball, we play good defense, we just didn’t finish drives, and that’s something we’ve been working on all season, is to finish drives.”
The Bulldogs extended their lead when Brandan Harley returned the second-half kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown. Later in the quarter, Rodriguez and Harley hooked up on a 66-yard touchdown reception to push the Bulldogs’ lead to 48-7.
Shadow Ridge was limited to only 50 yards in the second half, as Centennial’s defense allowed the Mustangs past midfield two times in the final two quarters. The second time was on the Mustangs’ final drive, as Centennial’s sportsmanship shined through when its defense “failed” to tackle Shadow Ridge special-needs student Christian DeJesus, who rumbled 66 yards for a touchdown with 22 seconds remaining.
Both sidelines and both rooting sections cheered loudly for the senior in what was a compassionate moment toward DeJesus.
Shadow Ridge was led by McDearmon, who ran for 92 yards on 13 carries and one touchdown.