By: David Wells
On any other night, Centennial running back Deon Sanders would have been the story of the night.
But as the Cougar student body stormed the field after Centennial’s 31-20 victory over Brentwood Friday night, even a casual observer could see it was no ordinary victory.
It was the first win over Brentwood in school history for Centennial (1-2, 1-0 District 11-AAA), and as the fans cleared the field and the players emerged, only then did the details of the game itself surface.
Sanders, already second in the district with 293 rushing yards, carried Centennial’s offense–along with a few Brentwood defenders—by rushing 42 times for 311 yards and three touchdowns.
Centennial head coach Brian Rector said that Sanders’ success on the ground almost guaranteed a Centennial victory.
“I’m just so proud of the effort of the entire offense,” he said. “The offensive line, I couldn’t be any prouder of them right now. The holes they opened up were amazing, and Deon’s individual effort running the ball was successful.”
Looking at the stats, though, you wouldn’t have guessed that for a few seconds in the fourth quarter, it was a nail-biter, and Brentwood (0-3, 0-1 District 11-AAA) was on the verge of a major momentum shift.
Centennial had a 21-7 lead when Brentwood quarterback Aaron Maher tossed an 18-yard touchdown pass to Austin Wells.
Less than two minutes later, Brentwood’s Hunter Anderson picked off Centennial quarterback Owen Roth at the 13-yard line, and Wells ran it in to narrow the Cougars’ lead to one.
But the momentum quickly swung back to Centennial, as Brentwood’s PAT sailed wide left of the goalpost, and Sanders scored the last of his three touchdowns from 58 yards out to make it 28-20.
Kicker Nick Madonia sealed the game for Centennial with a 29-yard field that put Brentwood down two scores with 1:09 left to play.
Neither team put together much of a passing game. Maher was 11-for-20 with one touchdown, two interceptions and 121 yards. Roth completed six of his 13 passes for 39 yards and a pick. Wells was 0-of-1 with one interception.
Early in the game, Brentwood capitalized on what had been the bane of Centennial’s existence in Weeks 0 and 1, exploiting the Cougars’ run defense with a John Robertson 80-yard touchdown run that tied the game 7-7 with 7:50 left in the first quarter.
Midway through the seconald quarter, Centennial took back the lead when Roth scored his own 1-yard touchdown for the Cougars, the capstone of a 79-yard drive that Sanders spearheaded.
Centennial will travel to Clarksville High School for its next game; Brentwood plays Hendersonville for its homecoming game. Centennial kicks off at 7 p.m., while the Brentwood game starts at 7:30 p.m.