Judging by the looks on the sidelines, this one stung. It was a different kind of sting from a 48-point loss last year, especially since Mildred watched Centerville sneak out of town with a narrow win.
The Eagles had their chances, and that’s what will be important weeks down the road. The Eagles were run over, then run over again. And again. Yet had a chance to win.
Centerville ran twice as many plays as Mildred, and eked out a 27-24 win at Asby Field in a game that featured two completely different halves.
The Tigers (2-0) are the only team to defeat Mildred (1-1) in the regular season the last three years. Last year, it was a 70-22 win in which they gashed Mildred’s defense with a power running game.
Friday looked like it might be more of the same, as Centerville was etching out an eight-play opening drive, getting deep in Mildred territory before Nic Stone caused a fumble, recovered it, and the Eagles scored in one play. Draylon Sterling took a jet sweep left, and went 52 yards to paydirt. It was 37 more yards than he had in last year’s game, when had 10 carries for 15 yards.
Centerville responded with a 17-play drive to get to within 7-6, and the tone was set. In the first half, Centerville ran 41 plays, Mildred 14. The finally tally was 69-35.
Centerville runs a lot of players out of a lot of formations, and Mildred prefers to play in space. Unfortunately, space became sparse against the Tigers.
A nine-play scoring drive and second straight 4-yard Trevor Goolsby touchdown run straight up the middle staked Centerville to a 13-7 lead with 8:45 left in the second, and on the ensuing kickoff Sterling again got into space, making a few moves and rambling 87 yards for a touchdown. Thirteen seconds after Centerville had taken the lead, Devin O’Sullivan’s second extra point made it 14-13 Mildred. The sledding got tough from there for the Eagles, and Sterling, who only gained six yards on his final 12 carries.
Centerville went back to the ground, using up almost four minutes to take a 20-14 lead as Tulley Pickens closed out a 10-play drive with an 11-yard run. Mildred answered with its most sustained scoring drive. It took six plays, and covered 87 yards.
Russell Holden covered the final 78, taking a pass over his left shoulder on a flag route toward the Centerville bench on a beautifully thrown ball from sophomore Will Burnham, who went 9-16 for 162 yards in his second varsity start. Holden slipped a tackler, and raced down the left sideline to make it 21-20 with 1:53 left in the half.
Just as important, and impressive, was a third-and-15 pass Burnham completed to Xavier Fugua for 15 yards while rolling out against his body. Instead of Mildred facing a fourth-and-long deep in its own territory, the conversion gave the Eagles a spark.
Centerville’s second fumble of the night came with just 34 seconds left in the half, and at its own 17 as Mario Villareal pounced on the Blake Payne miscue. On fourth down and after a spike to kill the clock on third down, O’Sullivan nailed a 28-yard field goal to make it 24-20 at the half.
Mildred had the ball to open the second half, with a chance to open its lead. But a three and out followed by Centerville’s first punt set the tone for the second half.
The third quarter featured four punts and Mildred turning the ball over on downs at the Tigers’ 37, only after what looked like a fourth-and-6 completion from Burnham to Mikey Muncy was ruled out of bounds. Centerville capitalized on the field position, and went 63 yards in six plays, getting a 5-yard Jordan McGuilvery run to take a 27-24 lead.
Mildred’s longest drive came late in the game, and included a 13-yard Burnham-to-Holden gain on third-and-15, followed by a 6-yard Sterling run on fourth down. On first and 10 from the 12, a holding penalty stymied the drive. On second and third downs, Burnham tried to hook up with Muncy near the goal line, and both passes fell incomplete.
On fourth down, the drive’s 12th play, a 41-yard O’Sullivan field goal attempt to tie the game with 3:42 left was just wide left.
With 1:29 left, Pickens ran for 23 yards on third and 6 to seal the win for Centerville.
The Tigers had nine players with a carry, five which had between 54 and 72 yards. They outgained Mildred, 350-248.
Centerville 27, Mildred 24
Centerville 6 14 0 7 — 27
Mildred 7 17 0 0 — 24
M — Draylon Sterling 52 run (Devin O’Sullivan kick), 7:58
C — Trevor Goolsby 4 run (Adrian Gaucin kick), 1:10
C — Goolsby 4 run (Adrian Gaucin kick), 8:45
M — Sterling 87 run (O’Sullivan kick), 8:32
C — Tulley Pickens 11 run (Gaucin kick), 4:41
M — Russell Holden 78 run (O’Sullivan kick), 1:53
M — O’Sullivan 28 field goal, 0:00
C — Jordan McGuilvery 5 run (Gaucin kick), 11:39
First downs 25 7
Rush-yards 62-330 20-101
Passing yards 20 162
C-A-I 3-7-0 9-16-0
Fumbles-lost 4-2 1-0
Punts-avg. 3-33 3-35
Penalties-yards 6-60 4-32
Rushing —C: Blake Payne 14-66, Tulley Pickens 7-72, Tyler Brown 4-15, Trevor Goolsby 13-64, Jordan McGuilvery 13-67, Amos Fills 3-4, Haiden Zarate 3-54, Trey Williams 1-14, Cade Harris 4-(-26). M: Draylon Sterling 13-58, Hunter Freeman 3-14, Will Burnham 3-0, Russell Holden 1-29.
Passing —C: Harris 3-6-0-20, Chance Carrigan 0-1-0-0. M: Burnham 9-16-0-162.
Receiving —C: Brown 1-5, Carrigan 2-15. M: Muncy 2-7, Sterling 3-20, Russell Holden 3-105, Xavier Fuqua 1-15.