Centerville Defense Comes Up Big in Tigers’ Close 34-26 Win Over Harleton
LUFKIN -- C.J. Denman and Trevor Goolsby combined for 215 yards and the Centerville Tigers' defense came up with the stops when they needed them most as they escaped with a 34-26 win over the Harleton Wildcats in playoff action at John Outlaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium on Friday night.
Centerville (5-6) moves on in the Class 2A Division I playoffs to face Shelbyville in the regional round. Shelbyville beat Carlisle 32-18 on Friday night.
Denman finished the night with 125 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and Goolsby had 90 yards along with the game-winning 12-yard touchdown run with 2:09 remaining as the Tigers stood tall in a wild game that featured plenty of momentum shifts throughout the second half.
Ted Fuller finished the night with 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also throwing for 106 yards and a touchdown, but Centerville came up just a few plays short of keeping its season alive.
The Tigers used a pair of turnovers and a punishing ground game to control much of the first quarter.
Harleton's first drive ended in its own territory when Koy Hoyle recovered a fumble.
Centerville then took to the ground for a six-play, 44-yard drive that was finished by C.J. Denman's five-yard touchdown run. Harleton stopped Denman just short on the two-point drive to keep the score 6-0.
Harleton's second turnover of the game led to Centerville's second touchdown.
After Caleb Holden picked off a pass for Centerville deep in its own territory, the Tigers pounded out a 14-play, 83-yard drive that took 7:31 off the clock.
It was capped by the only pass of the drive when Hunter Free lofted a 10-yard strike to Coleman Robinson. The two-point try was stopped once again, leaving Centerville with a 12-0 lead with 5:40 left in the second quarter.
Harleton finally got its offense going at the end of the first half when Ted Fuller hit Cody Fregia for a 21-yard pass and Centerville was called for a personal foul.
The Wildcats capped the drive with Fuller doing the damage on his own with a 12-yard touchdown run, narrowing the gap to 12-7 with 2:46 left in the half.
Harleton ended the final Centerville drive of the half with a Hayden Stanley interception as the game was a five-point margin at the break.
Centerville held Harleton to just 80 total yards in the first half with Fuller running for 51 yards and a score on 10 carries and throwing for 21 yards on just 1-of-7 passing with an interception.
Centerville was led by the tandem of Denman and Trevor Goolsby in the backfield. Denman ran for 61 yards on 11 carries while Goolsby had 57 yards on 10 carries.
Centerville kept its power ground game going in the second half, taking the kickoff and going the length of the field on 11 straight runs.
Then facing a fourth and three, Free found Coleman Robinson for a 23-yard touchdown pass. Denman ran in the two-point try, extending the lead to 20-7 midway through the second quarter.
Then after Centerville forced another punt, a pair of Tigers special teams gaffes let Harleton get back in the game.
Centerville muffed the punt return and Harleton's Mason Goode was there to recover to give the Wildcats good field position.
Harleton took advantage with Cade Dickeson scoring on a nine-yard run to cut the margin to 20-13 after the missed extra point.
On the following kickoff, Centerville's returner was unable to get the ball, and Harleton eventually fell on it at the Tigers' 8-yard line.
The Wildcats tied the game for the first time on the next play when Fuller scored on an 8-yard run, knotting it at 20-20.
Another big special teams play went in the favor of Centerville on the next play. After another misplay on the kickoff, Brandon Madison eventually picked it up and outraced Harleton for an 85-yard return, giving the Tigers a 26-20 lead after the third missed two-point conversion of the night.
Harleton seized the momentum on the following drive as Fuller connected with Cody Fregia for a 27-yard touchdown pass on fourth and eight. However, the extra point missed, leaving the game tied at 26-26 with 7:02 remaining.
Centerville responded with the game-deciding drive on the following possession, driving 63 yards on 11 running plays. Goolsby provided the punctuation to the drive, running in from 12 yards out before also adding the two-point conversion to make it 34-26 with 2:09 remaining.
From there, Harleton drove to the Centerville 42 before turning the ball over on downs, sending the Tigers to the next round of the playoffs.