Independence avoided opening the season with three straight losses by scoring three straight touchdowns in the first quarter Friday night then holding on 28-23 at home against Centennial.
The Independence team that took the field in the first quarter of the Eagles home opener looked more like the Indy teams of the last two years than of the last two weeks. But three straight first-quarter scores led to four second quarter turnovers, turning a potential Indy blowout into a closer game.
In the cold, wet and wind, the ground game gave Independence the edge early, as Troy Henderson scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, and finished with three on the night.
The Eagles scored on their first three possessions. Centennial did not have a first down in their first three. Henderson broke a 60-yard run for the first score of the game on the first drive of the game to put the Eagles up 7-0 with 10:21 in the first quarter.
Quarterback Nathan Cisco found TJ Sheffield for a 13-yard score, set up by several Henderson runs, to put the Eagles up 14-0 late in the first quarter. Then Henderson set himself up for an 8-yard touchdown run with a 40 yard run on the next Eagles possession, that made it 21-0 as time expired in the first quarter.
Centennial, after another three-and-out on offense, got on the board in the second quarter despite its lack of offense. Forcing an Independence punt, the Cougars managed to block it and recover it in the Eagle end zone to get on the board.
But things got sloppy in the second quarter. Three straight scoring possessions turned into three straight turnovers by Independence, as the blocked punt was followed by a Cisco fumble then a Henderson fumble on the Eagles 29-yard line.
Centennial then got its first first down of the game when Jariel Wilson ran for one, taking the ball to the Eagles 19. Then the Cougars made it a one score game, with Wilson gaining the Cougars second first down of the game and their second touchdown with a 19-yard run, making it 21-14 with 5:58 left in the first half.
But Henderson, after two big passes by Cisco, scored his third touchdown of the night with 2:53 in the second quarter on a hard-fought 5-yard run.
But then another fumble, this by Cisco, was bobbled and fell on in the Eagles end zone for a safety, leading to a 28-16 game at the half.
A slow third quarter saw only Centennial score, on a Wilson run, making it a 28-23 game.
The teams trades punts or failed drives in much of the rest of the quarter. Both offenses continued to sputter in the rain in the fourth, and the Eagles managed to hold on to avoid going 0-3.
Both teams are now 1-2. IHS plays at Hillsboro next week; CHS hosts Cane Ridge.