By: David Wells
You wouldn’t expect a team that scores three unanswered touchdowns in the first 12:34 of a game to need a last-second penalty to finally seal the deal.
But ask any one of Ravenwood’s players, and they will tell you that they were just happy to get out with a win.
Quarterback Avery Jankowski threw three touchdown passes and ran in another, while kicker Crews Holt’s 30-yard field goal helped Ravenwood hold on for 38-35 win at Centennial Friday night after the Raptors gave up a 21-0 lead to Centennial
The Raptors (4-1, 2-0 District 1-AAA) were finally able to win it after they recovered an Emmanuel Hall fumble while the Cougars (4-3, 2-1) were attempting a 70-yard game-winning drive. 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 an incompletion and keeping the Raptors’ running backs in check, hoping to give the Cougar offense that shot.
However, the Cougars never got that chance. The officials called offsides, and all Ravenwood had to do was kneel.
Ravenwood head coach Will Hester said it was no surprise to him that the Raptors were able to withstand the Cougars’ rally.
“We were able to overcome that adversity because they had been through a lot of adversity,” he said. “These kids have been through three head coaches in four years, and this senior class had to battle adversity every single day, and we were able to do it one more time.”
Jankowski finished 8-for-13 for 127 yards and no interceptions. Van Jefferson and Austin Percy were Jankowski’s only receivers for the night, but six different Raptors combined for 135 rushing yards.
Ravenwood’s defense held Centennial running back Deon Sanders to 103 yards on 24 carries, his lowest single-game rushing total this season, and it 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 in between the second and third quarters, 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.
Fortunately for Ravenwood, 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.
But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty put Ravenwood at the Cougar 38 with 7:33 left. Centennial kept the Raptors out of the end zone, but Holt’s kick was on the money, and Ravenwood took the lead for good.
Ravenwood will return to action Thursday at home against Dickson County. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.