Center overcomes mistakes in victory
By Brian Spano PrepsKC Senior Writer
Win or lose, sometimes that first game of the season doesn’t always go according to script. Maybe it’s opening night jitters, playing in front of a large crowd of family and friends or it’s simply a bad night all around.
Any way you look at it, regardless of the score, Center may be fortunate to come away with a 48-6 win over University Academy Friday night.
This was a game marred by penalties and turnovers. Lots of penalties and turnovers.
“We were at the jamboree last week with Lee’s Summit North, William Chrisman, Maryville and competed with Maryville, felt good and didn’t have those types of mistakes, didn’t put the ball on the ground,” Center head coach Bryan DeLong said. “Tonight, I guess the wheels came off. I hope we get all our mistakes out for the year because our next three games are a meat grinder, and if we play like that, the score will be flipped the other way. We can’t make mistakes like that.”
In addition to the mistakes from both teams, University Academy, 0-1, suited up just 22 players but lost one about midway through the first quarter causing about a 40-minute delay when junior running back Vonzell Stamps went down with a dislocated elbow. It was a loss that a team without the numbers could not afford.
“We’ve had a hard time getting the kids out for football like we needed to get them out,” University Academy coach Dan Stanley said. “We’re not giving up on them. I’ve got a good coaching staff, and I’ve got some tough kids. I have a lot of kids that have never played before. We wanted to get through this game without getting anybody hurt and do a few things right.”
With the delay and both teams looking for some kind of rhythm or flow to the game, both teams struggled moving the ball. Center struck first after recovering a fumble at the Gryphons three-yard line. Coincidentally, the fumble recovery was the play Stamps left the game with the injury. Anthony Eskridge went in on the first play after the long delay.
Late in the first quarter, Gage King bolted 60 yards on a punt return, and Center, 1-0, lead 14-0.
For a moment it looked like the Yellowjackets were taking control of the game and could run away and hide, but Gryphons defensive back Jackson Beckett read a swing pass play from Center’s Jaante Perkins that the offense thought fell incomplete, but was ruled a lateral. It fell to the ground and Beckett scooped it up and rumbled 68 yards for the score, 14-6.
“I was blitzing, saw the quarterback drop back, so I hesitated my blitz,” Beckett said. “I thought it was a dead ball. I picked the ball up and didn’t hear a whistle and just kept going.”
Unfortunately, it was the last time University Academy would see the light of the end zone the rest of the night.
Center finally did take control in the second quarter putting together two nice scoring drives and recovering a muffed snap off of a punt in the end zone.
Two more touchdowns in the third quarter gave the Yellowjackets a running clock for the rest of the game.
“We finally picked up the tempo and came together as a team,” said senior wide receiver Isaiah Maxi on Center finally getting going and taking control of the game.
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