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Photo Credit: Cody Thorn/Special to PrepsKC

MARYVILLE, Mo. – For the third time since 2012, Maryville and Center met in the quarterfinals of the Class 3 football playoffs. In the first two meetings the Spoofhounds defeated the Yellowjackets on the way to reaching the state championship game.

Maryville took one step closer to reaching fourth state championship game in six years by beating Center 19-13 on Saturday at the Hound Pound.

The victory was the 53rd in a row at home for the Spoofhounds (11-2) and they ended Center's season for the second year in a row. Last year, Maryville won 23-15.

“We really treasure every year and you know, treasure the opportunity to realize the Class 3 playoffs started with 63 teams and we are down to the final four,” Maryville coach Matt Webb said. “To be one of them, as a coach, you never want to get used to it. You never want to say ho'hum here we are back again. These are special opportunities that you will never forget and our players deserve it.”

The Spoofhounds will play Blair Oaks in the semifinals next Saturday in Jefferson City. Blair Oaks beat No. 1-ranked McCluer South-Berkeley, 32-16, in the other quarterfinal on that side of the bracket.

Maryville, ranked No. 7 in the final regular season Missouri Media poll, dominated the first half of the game thanks to a rushing attack that accounted for 30 of 38 offensive plays. Center (10-3) won the toss but deferred and then struggled to stop ground game led by Eli Dowis, Brady Atwell and Tyler Houchin.

Dowis gained 14 yards on the first play and put the Spoofhounds in the Yellowjackets' territory. Maryville ran the ball eight times in a row and got down to the Center 24 after quarterback Will Walker converted a 4th-and-1 on a 2-yard sneak. A 16-yard run by Atwell on a reverse set up Dowis' 3-yard run with 7:24 to play in the first. The conversion failed, making it 6-0.

“We would have to find a way to get movement in the run game and I think we did that,” Webb said “That set the tone really good. Emotions are so high in a quarterfinal game and we were able to get that first score right off the bat.”

The ground attack for Maryville continued three drives, which led to a 19-0 lead. Maryville scored on three of its four first-half possessions, the lone exception was when No. 8-ranked Center stopped the Spoofhounds on 4th-and-goal from the 1 early in the second quarter.

Between that stop were Maryville scoring drives.

A nine-play drive that featured seven rushes ended with Walker hitting Atwell for an 11-yard touchdown with 1:44 left in the first quarter.

Walker had a pair of big completions on Maryville's final drive of the second quarter, hitting Quentin Ternus for a 20-yard gain and Dowis for a 27-yard completion. Dowis' 17-yard run moved the ball to Center's 4 and two plays later, Walker's keeper made it 18-0. After two failed two-point conversion attempts, Maryville kicked it to extend the lead.

Center bounced back from the early deficit and it started by getting the ball with 53 seconds left in the first half. The Yellowjackets quickly got a first down to move to midfield and then Amaun Ryan gained 14-yards on a scamper and ran out of bounds with 17.2 seconds left. With 2.6 seconds left, Ryan threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to David Wilson, who out jumped a Maryville defender on wheel route.

Center trailed 19-7 at the break and got the ball to start the third. The Yellowjackets marched down the field but Ryan was picked off by Tate Oglesby in the end zone.

Three plays later, Raymontey McNeal hauled in a pick – off a deflection – to give Center the ball back. Starting at the Maryville 41, the Yellowjackets needed seven plays to get on the board again.

Center had three straight 10-plus yard plays, the last of which was a 15-yard run by Dre'Ron Broadway for a touchdown. Prior to that, Jeremiah Wilson had a 13-yard gain and Ryan hit Darius Porter for a 10-yard play.

The Yellowjackets had an opportune chance to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter but ultimately turned the ball over on a fumble. After blocking a field goal attempt late in the third, Center took over at the 20 and Ryan found McNeal wide open on third down for a 37-yard gain, but McNeal fell to the turf at the Maryville 34 untouched, slipping on the slick, soggy field.

Two plays later, Center fumbled and Garrett Pistole recovered for the Spoofhounds at the Maryville 28.

Center had the ball one last time and punted and Maryville ran the clock out, getting a key fourth-down conversion with 1:11 left.

“I thought we ourself in position to do good things and we couldn't get over the top,” Center coach Bryan DeLong said. “Very similar to last year. We were right there until the end and just couldn't make plays. We got down 19-0 and to not to let them score again, I'm proud of our kids effort. We were resilient and looked in the faced of adversity and fought back. I just wish I could've made a couple better calls to give us a chance to win at the end.”

Maryville rolled up 296 yards on 63 carries and had a pair of 100-yard rushers. Atwell had 119 on 10 carries and Dowis had 100 on 20 totes. Center all-state running back Jeremiah Wilson was held to 67 yards on 12 carries. Ryan passed for 138 yards for the Yellowjackets.