Nearly reaching their season average of 62 points per game, Peoria Centennial coach Richard Taylor was still far from pleased Friday night.
Citing reliance on “the big play” instead of firm execution, Centennial nonetheless scored two touchdowns on their first six offensive plays and then rolled to a 56-23 victory over Surprise Willow Canyon in a Division II game.
Despite giving up two touchdowns on kickoff returns and another when Willow Canyon’s Gaetano Florio scored on a 23-yard fumble recovery, Centennial was carried by the arm of senior quarterback Tre’von Grant, who tossed five touchdowns passes, including three in the first half.
On three of the five scoring strikes, Grant was able to detect one-on-one coverage, especially on patterns down the field and took advantage.
His 37-yard touchdown strike early in the game to junior Oche Myers caught Willow Canyon in isolated coverage, and Myers had clear sailing down the middle, putting Centennial up 7-0 less than two minutes into the game.
“They blitzed quite a bit and that left the secondary spread apart,” said Grant, who finished the night 13-for-23 for 236 yards and those five scoring strikes. “When a team has that iso coverage, it’s almost like disrespecting us. I have complete confidence in my receivers.”
Complementing Grant, junior running back running back Matt Rodriguez led Centennial with 88 yards on the ground, and scored on a 52-yard run midway way through the opening period. That put Centennial up 14-0 just five minutes into the game, and when Grant hit Paul Ruiz on a 28-yard scoring strike with 1:09 left in the opening period, that created a three touchdown advantage at the end of the opening period.
“We played a very sloppy game and cannot always rely on the big play,” said Taylor. “We lost our focus, had too many turnovers, too many penalties. Plus, special teams gave more touchdowns than the defense.”
That would be zero, coach.
The swarming Centennial defense seem to have three and four tacklers constantly near the ball. For their effort, the defense allowed a net of 26 rushing yards by Willow Canyon on 29 carries. The defense also surrendered just one completion during the entire game as Willow Canyon quarterback Tristian Madden was held to a 1-for-7 night for 7 yards and two interceptions.
Senior running back Antony Thompson topped Willow Canyon on ground with 46 yards on 18 carries.