Risky calls bring down Centennial

Chip Cirillo-tennessan.com

Two coaching gambles in the first half created a deep hole for Centennial.

The Cougars never recovered as the Panthers beat Centennial 26-13 in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs Friday night.

Lenoir City (7-5) called a fake punt in the first quarter to score its first TD as Jordan Willis caught a 51-yard pass from Copeland West, increasing the Panthers’ lead to 10-0.

Then in the second quarter Centennial went for it on fourth-and-1, but Darius Steele was tackled for a 1-yard loss on a running play, which gave Lenoir City the ball at the Cougars’ 33-yard line.

Camion Patrick scored on a 33-yard run on the next play, building the Panthers’ lead to 17-0 with 4:21 left in the first half.

“The first half was definitely all Lenoir City,” Cougars Coach Brian Rector said. “If I would have made a couple different calls it might have saved another seven points or so on the board, but you take those chances. And our teams are never going to be the type that we’re just going to play it safe and let things happen.”

Lenoir City advances to next week’s quarterfinals against Powell.

“(Centennial) kept bringing everybody off the edge there on the punts,” Panthers Coach Mike Zeller said. “They did it twice and we were offsides once, so I just figured, ‘Let’s go ahead and run (the fake punt).’ It didn’t seem like they were covering our guy.”

Centennial (7-5) narrowed the deficit to 26-13 and drove deep into Lenoir City territory when Copeland West intercepted J.J. Tomlin’s pass at the Panthers’ 2-yard line with 2:35 left.

Tomlin completed 24 of 40 passes for 263 yards with two TDs to Dusty Lee.

“The second half we came out, deciding that we weren’t going to give up and gave it our all,” Tomlin said. “Lenoir City is so disciplined as a ball team. They fought just as hard as we did.”