Defense drives Centre in home opener

September 15, 2003|MIKE MARSEE

It was a fine day for an offense that generated over 400 yards, but it all started with the defense.

It was the defense that first created the momentum that would carry Centre College to a win in its home opener Saturday.

That defense forced two first-half turnovers that led to Centre scores, catapulting the Colonels toward a 30-16 victory over Franklin & Marshall at Farris Stadium.

"You can't get the ball unless the defense holds them up," Centre wide receiver David Crowley said. "We didn't have any momentum to start out the game ... but the defense kept getting the ball back."


Centre (2-0) held F&M (1-1) to 78 yards in the first half while the offense got un-tracked and staked the Colo-nels to a 16-0 lead, and it allowed just 190 yards overall.

"I was thrilled to see that our defense stepped it up from the Kenyon game," Centre coach Andy Frye said. "And our front played really well.

"We knew F&M seemed to have a better ground game. My concern was could we hold them, and could we force them to throw the football to beat us, and fortunately we did."

The Diplomats rushed for just 25 yards, averaging barely a yard per carry.

Meanwhile, Centre's offense rolled up 407 yards, 60 percent of them coming through the air.

Crowley caught seven passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns in the best game of his career, Brian Behrendt threw for 248 yards and all-purpose back Lorenzo Engleman had 87 yards rushing and 35 yards receiving.

The Colonels got most of their yards on pass plays in the first half, then had 113 of their 159 yards rushing in the second half as they established their ground game.

"In the second half we were able to start pushing the ball between the tackles, which we couldn't do before," Frye said. "Our kids came out and got a good push off the ball in the second half."

Trying to enhance reputation in Division III South Region

Frye scheduled this game against F&M, which is located in Lancaster, Pa., but is in the South Region in Division III, in hopes of enhancing Centre's reputation within the region.

"This was a big game for us as far as helping our name get out a little more around D-III football," Crowley said.

The two teams battled to a defensive draw until Centre's Solomon Parker picked off a pass that had been tipped by John Ortega, giving the Colonels the ball at the F&M 21-yard line.

Centre soon got the game's first score on a 13-yard pass from Brian Behrendt to Crowley, and Danville native Bennett Clark followed the touchdown with his first career extra-point kick.

Clark's only other extra-point attempt was blocked, but he kicked a 20-yard field in the second quarter. A later attempt from 20 yards was also blocked.

After the Colonels' first touchdown, they got the ball back two plays later when Jarrod Zywien recovered a fumble and returned it 19 yards to the F&M 11, and they took a 13-0 lead when Bobby Gaffney dived over the line and into the end zone from 1 yard out.

"I think the defense gave the offense a little charge early with the turnovers," said Ortega, who also had a team-high 13 tackles for Centre. "Last week we didn't create any turnovers, and we really focused on that this week."

Clark's field goal made it 16-0 with 5:45 left in the first half, but F&M answered with a 12-play, 62-yard scoring drive and a two-point conversion to cut the Colonels' lead in half.

The Diplomats were trying to score on fourth-and-goal from the Centre 5 when Jeff Harner's pass was broken up by Centre cornerback Kevin Tytus but fell right into the hands of F&M tailback Scott Stephen.

"We made a great play, then they made a great play," Frye said.

Centre scored on its first series of the second half when Behrendt and Crowley hooked up for a 23-yard touchdown pass to cap a nine-play, 57-yard drive, then went up 30-8 when Behrendt's 51-yard pass to Adam Schneider set up Rhese McKenzie's 1-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter.

That was the longest completion of the day for Behrendt, who was 20-for-38.

Harner, F&M's freshman quarterback, was 14-for-35 for 110 yards with two interceptions.

The Diplomats' second score came with 3:28 left on a drive led by backup Doug Hiltner.

Central Kentucky News Articles