By: David Wells
If you did not know the teams’ records, you certainly couldn’t tell that Centennial was playing a 1-8 squad when Dickson County came to town.
For a team that had only won one game, the visitors sure knew how to score.
In the end, though, it was Centennial who prevailed as the Cougars kept their playoff hopes alive with a 41-38 overtime win over Dickson County Friday night.
Throughout the second half, it seemed as if there was nothing the Cougars (5-4, 3-2 District 11-AAA) could do to stop Dickson County’s Otis Gerron. Gerron got the call on 32 of Dickson County’s 46 offensive plays, and for good reason: he gained 287 yards on the Centennial defense, along with four touchdowns.
Centennial head coach Brian Rector said that despite the obvious execution errors on Centennial’s part, he will not berate his team because of the unique challenges Gerron presented.
“As a coach, you never really understand,” he said. “You remember doing it, but as far as that particular kid, you never really know what it’s like to tackle a guy unless you have to go out there and do it.”
The visitors, who are also nicknamed the Cougars, held star running back Deon Sanders to his lowest rushing yards total of the season, as he gained 123 yards on 27 carries.
But Dickson County (1-8, 1-5) was unable to contain receiver Emmanuel Hall, who torched the Cougar defense both on the ground and in the air for 212 combined offensive yards.
It was Hall who got Centennial on the board first with a 31-yard touchdown pass, followed on the next drive by the first of Sanders’ two touchdowns to put Centennial up 14-0.
Dickson County struggled at first to get the ball going, punting on their first three times. But after Centennial’s first two touchdowns, Dickson County’s defense caught three interceptions and forced a turnover on downs deep within its down territory.
On the following drive, Gerron finally broke through with a 62-yard touchdown run to make it 14-7 before halftime.
Centennial quarterback Owen Roth had two of those interceptions on a night where he attempted more passes than he had in any other game, while B.J. Griffin added the third on his lone pass attempt.
Rector said that he intentionally went with a pass-oriented approach even with the turnovers.
“We had some pass plays that we really liked on the call sheet, and anytime there’s something we really like, we want to make sure we call it regardless of the situation,” he said.
Griffin would be the hero for Centennial in overtime after a second half that saw 65 points scored between the two teams, many of which came on long runs by Gerron. After Centennial won the toss and kicker Nick Madonia 29-yard field goal made it 41-38, Griffin recovered a fumble on a bad exchange to give Centennial the victory.
“It was very exciting,” Griffin said of his overtime play. “It was a big adrenaline rush. I’m just happy we got the win.”
Centennial’s playoff chances are still uncertain after Independence’s 29-28 victory over Franklin Friday night. The Cougars will travel on Nov. 1 to play the Rebels in hopes of securing a playoff spot; a loss would most certainly erode those hopes.