As Legacy lined up to kick an extra point that would tie Friday’s season opener with Centennial at 27 with 1:12 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs’ Levante Briggs noticed a seam in the kicking formation.
So when the ball was snapped, Briggs crashed through and jumped in an effort to block the crucial extra point. He didn’t block it, but Briggs distracted Legacy place-kicker Skye Parker enough that Parker hooked the kick left of the uprights.
And that was the difference in fourth-ranked Centennial’s 27-26 win over the host Longhorns. Legacy also missed an extra point in the first quarter.
“Any time you get a ‘W,’ we’ll take it,” Centennial coach Leon Evans said. “It was more us than them tonight. Our quarterback missed some throws, and they were controlling the line of scrimmage and that was a big thing.
“Once we were able to get that crease in the line of scrimmage, we were able to make some plays. They are tough. They are going to beat a lot of football teams this year.”
The Longhorns jumped out to a 13-0 lead after quarterback Tanoa Alapati connected with Jamaal Britt on a 27-yard scoring strike and running back Naim Geeslin scored on a 36-yard run.
At that point in the game, the Bulldogs (1-0) were being manhandled up front. The defense couldn’t seem to stop Legacy’s rushing attack, and the Bulldogs’ offense couldn’t get out of its own way.
Centennial had one promising drive snuffed out when Anthony Sotelo and Derriyon Shaw each recorded sacks on consecutive plays.
“They were running the ball down our throats,” Evans said. “They were tougher than us, plain and simple. They came out and pounded the ball. They lined up off balance and just kicked our butt.
“We got beat on both sides of the ball up front. Our offensive and defensive lines must get much better. We need to get much more push on both sides of the ball.”
The Bulldogs, one of the favorites to win the Northwest Division, finally got their offense going late in the second quarter.
Centennial’s first score came on a 26-yard Juan Puentes field goal. After Legacy went three-and-out, Jamaal Evans hooked up with Savon Scarver on a 46-yard scoring strike to cut the Longhorns’ lead to 13-10 with 1:17 to play in the half.
Evans finished the night completing 15 of 24 passes for 221 yards.
After the Bulldogs forced another three-and-out, Evans again drove his team into field-goal range, and Puentes connected on another 26-yard field goal to tie the game at 13-13.
“We were able to get the momentum back with that big play to Scarver,” Jamaal Evans said. “That was a big momentum change there, and we just kept it going.”
Centennial looked ready to run away with the game, dominating the early part of the third quarter and taking a 27-13 lead on touchdown runs of 1 and 2 yards by Demetrius Goodman.
Geeslin added a 72-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter to cut Centennial’s lead to 27-20.
Geeslin rushed for 220 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns.
“Once again it was the big plays. If we could have eliminated those big plays tonight, it would have been a lot different ball game,” Leon Evans said.
Geeslin also practically willed his team down the field in the final minutes of the game. He carried the ball seven times for 59 yards on the Longhorns final nine-play scoring drive that was capped off when Alapati connected with Lucas Krause on a 16-yard touchdown pass.
Centennial played without senior running back Rhamondre Stevenson. Leon Evans said the all-state pick from a year ago is expected to return next week.