Centennial's Dillon Hart came up with two big catches down the stretch to push the Eagles to a 14-12 win over Radford High out of Hawaii in Friday's season opener.
Deadlocked at 6-6 midway through the fourth quarter, Hart jumped a route near the sideline and came up with an interception. The Eagles took possession in Radford territory — the end zone was within sight.
"They had been running those quick posts all night, and I knew I could crash in on it, get my hands on the ball and make the pick," Hart said.
The Eagles called Hart's number immediately, sending him down the sideline on a go route. Centennial QB Kaiden Lansford looped a pass toward the end zone only to have the ball slip through Hart's hands.
He would get another chance.
Centennial kept the drive alive when running back Jimmie Barton broke around the right side to convert a 3rd-and-4, taking the ball inside the 20-yard line.
The Eagles fumbled a few plays later, but Cyrus Boatman fell on it to retain possession. Centennial put the ball on the turf nine times, but bailed itself out with recoveries in six of those instances.
An incomplete pass and a false start penalty saw the Eagles use a pair of timeouts, trying to come up with a plan to pick up 4th-and-11.
The plan was simple.
"We wanted to make a connection with one of our biggest playmakers and put the ball into the end zone," Lansford said.
The sophomore QB dropped back and had plenty of room to make a well-placed throw down the sideline. Hart shook loose from his defender at the line of scrimmage and reached over the top of Radford's Anthony Benito to pull down the 18-yard touchdown near the back line.
The two wrestled for the ball momentarily, but Hart held it firmly against his body for the clear catch.
"I love playing under the lights, and Kaiden and I know each other well enough to make those big plays happen," Hart said.
Next up was the two-point conversion with Radford coaches shouting from the sidelines exactly what was about to happen.
The Rams were powerless to stop it.
Boatman, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound backup QB, took the snap and powered his way around right guard for what proved to be the winning points.
Radford put together a final drive, but was relying on power runs into the middle by 250-pounder Iovani Alatini to move the ball. The Rams got inside Centennial's 30, but the clock was disappearing at a rapid rate, rolling under two minutes.
Two incomplete passes following a Radford timeout had the Rams up against the wall, facing 4th-and-7. Randy Wright dropped back and flung a deep pass over the middle, hitting Talas Savea for a 27-yard touchdown.
Radford was a two-point conversion away from sending the game to overtime.
A false start moved the ball back to the 8-yard line and made running the ball into the end zone unlikely. Almost an unlikely as the Rams completing passes on back-to-back plays.
Radford attempted a pass to the left side, but the ball was well behind the receiver, who was unable to get a hand on it.
Boatman covered up the onside kick without a challenge, and the Eagles were able to kneel-down to kill the clock.
Radford went up 6-0 in the first quarter when Wright hit Cameron Copeland for a 29-yard touchdown strike. Centennial tied the score late in the third quarter when Jadon Pickles got free around the left side for a 38 yard scoring run.
Centennial hosts Newberg next Friday.
View photos from the game at daveball.exposuremanager.com.