FRANKLIN — First-year Centennial coach Matt Kriesky’s game plan was simple for Friday’s contest against Williamson County rival Brentwood, and the Cougars carried it out to a T.
“Pound the football and eat up the clock,” said Kriesky, whose Cougars captured a significant Region 7-5A win behind nearly 400 yards rushing. “That was our goal — wear them down — and we did it.”
Senior running back Zyon Lee, who has been hobbled with a high-ankle sprain in recent weeks, led the way in the 27-17 victory, running for a team-high 239 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 29 attempts, including a 79-yard, second-quarter score.
“Eli (Katina) made a great block and I just had to make something for myself,” Lee said of the long run. “The O-line was blocking well and we just succeeded running the football.”
The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Lee, who was rarely brought down by the first Bruin defender on Friday, later scored on a 3-yard, fourth-quarter run.
Teammate Matthew Thurston, who finished with 64 yards on 16 carries, accounted for the Cougars’ final score, barreling into the end zone from 4 yards out with just over two minutes to play.
“When a team can take the ball and run seven straight powers on you, that’s tough,” Brentwood coach Ron Crawford said. “We just weren’t able to stop it.”
Centennial (7-1, 5-0 in 7-5A), which is now tied atop the region standings with Henry County, finished with 371 yards rushing on 61 carries. The visiting Bruins (4-4, 3-2), meanwhile, managed just 142 altogether in the losing effort.
“We continued to play until the end of the game, but they were just bigger, stronger and more physical than us,” added Crawford. “Their running backs were in there breaking tackles, and we had trouble with their front and just couldn’t shake loose. To me that’s the tale of the game.”
Brentwood quarterback Carson Shacklett, who completed just 10 of 26 passes for 76 yards with an interception, finished with a team-high 45 yards rushing a pair of 1-yard touchdowns on 15 carries.
“We still have to continue to get better and get some things fixed,” said Kriesky, whose Cougars travel to Henry County in two weeks for what will determine a Region 7-5A champion. “Like I told the guys before the game, we’ve got to worry about Centennial. We’re getting better, but there are still things we have to improve to make the run that we want to.”
Evidently, running the football isn’t one of them.
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