By: David Wells
With two minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, it seemed as if the crowd at Centennial High School was about to explode.
Down by three points, all the Cougars needed was a fourth-down stop to get one final shot at the end zone before time expired.
Then came the flag.
Despite coming back from a 21-0 deficit with four unanswered touchdowns in the second and third quarters, Centennial’s 38-35 Fright-night loss to Ravenwood came down to an offsides penalty that gave the Raptors the victory.
Centennial coach Brian Rector said that the Cougars made too many mistakes to expect to win against an opponent like Ravenwood.
“We just made so many mistakes,” Rector said. “There were so many mistakes that were innumerable tonight.”
That fourth-down penalty came after the Raptors (4-1, 2-0 District 1-AAA) recovered an Emmanuel Hall fumble as the Cougars (4-3, 2-1) attempted a 70-yard game-winning drive. Moments before, Ravenwood took a three-point lead when Crews Holt kicked a 30-yard field goal.
Ravenwood took over on its own 41 with 2:18 to play, and it only needed a first down to keep Centennial from another shot at the end zone. But the Centennial defense stood tall, forcing and incompletion and keeping the Raptor’s running backs in check in hopes of giving the Cougar offense that shot.
However, the Cougars never got the opportunity. The officials called offsides, and all Ravenwood had to do was kneel.
The Raptors held Centennial running back Deon Sanders to 103 yards on 24 carries, his lowest single-game rushing total this season, and the defense won the turnover battle with three takeaways.
However, that did not stop the Cougars from moving the chains; in a span of about five minutes, Centennial scored on two Sanders touchdown runs and a 49-yard run by Bailey Wisniowski that came after the Cougars recovered their own onside kick.
The Cougars’ defense, which surrendered 116 passing yards in the first half, stepped up its game as well by sacking quarterback Avery Jankowski four times before Wisniowski’s 38-yard pass to Hall put them up 28-21.
Unfortunately for Centennial, that lead would be short-lived. Three minutes after that go-ahead touchdown, Jankowski tied it up with a 7-yard pass to Jefferson. On Centennial’s next drive, Ravenwood defensive back Austin Percy picked off quarterback Owen Roth to set up Jankowski’s 5-yard rushing touchdown.
Centennial took over at its own 25. On a 1st-and-20 at the Cougar 15-yard line, Roth launched a 46-yard pass to Wisniowski. A few plays later, Roth ran a quarterback sneak to tie the game at 35.
Wisniowski left the game on Centennial’s last drive of the game with an apparent hamstring injury. Rector said that expects Wisniowski to be OK.
Centennial will play on the road Friday at Independence. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.