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Brittany Bowyer: Centennial buckles down to beat Chaparral

(Brittany Bowyer Photo)

Special to AllSportsTucson from Brittany Bowyer

Brittany Bowyer is a freelance journalist who started her career as an intern for a small sports website back in 2015. Since then, she’s obtained her master’s degree in Sports Journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at ASU and is in her fourth year of covering various levels of sports across a broad range of platforms in Arizona. You can follow her on twitter @bbowyer07

The Centennial Coyotes secured their fifth win of the season Friday night with a 42-28 victory over the Chaparral Firebirds. It was a battle up until the fourth quarter, when the Coyotes were able to run away with the win thanks to an explosive performance from sophomore running back Kavaughn Clark

Centennial came out of the blocks hot, scoring a touchdown on the opening drive less than two minutes into the game. Coyotes senior quarterback Joshua Gasca found an open Marzion Cosby for a 61-yard touchdown. 

The Coyote defense caused a bit of an issue for Chaparral at first as they tried to get their footing early on. On the first drive, junior quarterback Brayten Silbor was picked off by sophomore Demari Washington. 

However, Chaparral was able to move the ball down the field in just four snaps on its second possession and tie things up with a 15-yard touchdown run from Silbor himself. 

Centennial then was able to add on two more touchdowns in the next four and a half minutes. The first came on an eight-yard touchdown run by Clark with 11:14 left in the second. A fumble on the kickoff by Chaparral was recovered by Centennial, setting up Clark for his third touchdown of the night, this one coming on a 32-yard run. 

The Coyotes quickly found themselves up 21-7, but the Firebirds weren’t going down without a fight. Chaparral was able to recover a fumble by Gasca and score on the next snap of the game with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Silbor to senior Capri Hamilton. They went into the half trailing by just a touchdown. 

When Chaparral came back out after the half, they initially brought the heat, moving the ball down the field and scoring with ease in less than two minutes. Silbor was able to find senior Max Minor for a 35-yard touchdown run to tie things up at 21. 

Chaparral’s defense started giving Centennial some trouble in the second half, preventing the Coyotes from moving the ball and forcing a turnover on downs after the Coyotes couldn’t convert on a fourth down attempt. The Firebirds were able to come back and take a 28-21 lead with just over four minutes remaining with a one-yard touchdown run from senior Jared Williams.

Centennial didn’t stay tailing for long, though, as the offense went back out there and looked to easily move the ball down the field. The Coyotes tied things up at 28 with just under two minutes remaining in the third with a 31-yard touchdown run by senior Daxon Lindholm

The Coyotes defense was able to dig deep, though, and pull out every last ounce of energy they had. Defensive end DJ Gleason had a huge fumble recovery at the start of the fourth quarter, and the offense was able to capitalize. Clark punched it in again, this one from 17-yards out, making it his third touchdown of the night with 9:21 remaining in the game. 

Building off that momentum, Centennial was able to extend it to 42-28 with a fourth and final touchdown run from Clark, this one for 86-yards. The sophomore was an absolute bulldozer on the field tonight, accounting for more than 200 rushing yards on his own for the night. 

“The O-line played great. It was just a super good team effort, and the fourt touchdowns I had, everything just came together,” Clark said. “It’s a phenomenal feeling.”

“He’s a real talent, he already has one offer to Nevada as a sophomore, and he has a chance to be really good. He’s a humble kid, and I don’t think this will go to his head, and I think he’ll just continue to work harder and get better,” Coach Richard Taylor said. 

Chaparral wasn’t able to rally, though, as a number of injuries plagued the team towards the end of the game. Perhaps the most impactful was the hard hit that Silbor took early in the fourth that seemed to shake him up a bit, followed by a play with less than three minutes left where he was seemingly knocked out briefly on the field. Following the play, Silbor laid on the ground for quite some time without moving as the medical staff attended to him. 

Overall, Centennial was able to rack up nearly 375 rushing yards on the night, really hammering down on the ground game. Gasca was 10 for 16 on the night for 187 yards, no interceptions and one fumble. Meanwhile for Chaparral, the firebirds only were able to generate 80 rushing yards on the night, but Silbor passed for 243 yards and completed 15 of 34 passes. 

“They’re a very good team, well coached and they’ve got some outstanding players,” Coach Taylor said. 

Next week, Centennial will look to break into the Open division rankings with a win over their Rivals, the Liberty Lions. Meanwhile for Chaparral, they’ll rally in hopes of ending the season 3-2 when they close things out next week against Pinnacle at home. 

“We’ve just got to keep the energy up from this week. A lot of it is going down because of COVID,” said Gasca. “But other than that, we’ve just got to keep the energy up and play Liberty. You know, they’re our rivals, so we’ve got to bring it back to them.”

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