With the clock ticking down late in the fourth quarter Friday, the situation looked bleak for the Centennial football team.
The Bulldogs trailed by three points and appeared lethargic, but Coby Newton never worried.
The Bulldogs running back, who carried his team for the first two quarters, came back to life in the final four minutes to help Centennial rally for a dramatic 24-20 win over visiting Palo Verde.
Newton’s 4-yard run into the right corner of the end zone with 45 seconds left proved to be the game winner.
“All I wanted to do was go hard,” Newton said. “Anything in my way, all I wanted to do was hit it as hard as I could.”
Centennial coach Leon Evans, whose team was eliminated by the Panthers in the postseason last year, said his Bulldogs waited nine months for a chance to avenge the loss.
“It seemed like we waited forever for this,” Evans said. “We worked hard to get to this game because we felt like they took one away from us last year.”
Palo Verde struck first, going ahead 3-0 when Tom Randall nailed a 39-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in the first quarter.
But the Bulldogs answered on their next drive, going ahead 7-3 on an 8-yard pass from Austin Turley to Chris Johnson.
The Panthers got a 1-yard touchdown run from Parker Rost and a 30-yard field goal from Randall in the second quarter and appeared to be headed into halftime with a 12-7 lead.
But Lantz Worthington’s 94-yard kick return for a touchdown with 27 seconds left gave Centennial a 14-12 lead at the half.
Though Newton carried 10 times for 129 yards in the first half, Palo Verde shut him down for most of the third and fourth quarters.
The Bulldogs went ahead 17-12 on a 40-yard field goal by Blake Frischknecht, but Rost connected with Ryan Beaulieu for a 24-yard touchdown pass to put the Panthers back ahead at 20-17 early in the fourth quarter.
“Palo Verde is still one of the best teams in the city,” Evans said. “We just kept telling the guys to fight and believe, and on that last drive, they did.”
The final Bulldogs drive followed two fruitless drives in which they were unable to move the ball. But a pair of passes from Turley to Deontae Gilkey opened the door for Newton, who broke a 16-yard run with just more than a minute to play to put Centennial at the Palo Verde 20-yard line.
Newton, who finished with 198 yards on 27 carries, scored on the next play.
Turley completed 8 of 14 passes for 92 yards, and Gilkey caught four passes for 60 yards.
Rost completed nine of 16 passes for 122 yards to lead Palo Verde, and Beaulieu ran 11 times for 62 yards.In-depth high school sports coverage