Centre pulls out 32-31 win

September 21, 2003|MIKE MARSEE

The momentum was gone, and so was the lead. But it didn't take Centre College long to get them both back.

After falling behind in the fourth quarter, the Colonels made no less than six big plays in the final five minutes to go back in front and hold off Rhodes for a 32-31 victory at Farris Stadium.

It was an important win because it was Centre's Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference opener, but coach Andy Frye said it was also important because it gives the Colonels momentum that might last long past Saturday's game.

"I believe this could be our signature game," Frye said.

Lorenzo Engleman, whose two-point conversion run with 3:33 to play gave Centre (3-0) its margin of victory, echoed that sentiment.

"I think this will be a big boost for us," Engleman said. "It gives us confidence to know we can win close games."


They don't come much closer than this. But the Colonels made the difference with several exceptional plays on offense, defense and special teams down the stretch.

"We're a strong, disciplined team, and I think we knew we could make plays," said Adam Blandford, who made one of them by blocking a punt to set up Centre's last touchdown.

That came less than four minutes after Rhodes (1-2, 0-2 SCAC) took a 31-24 lead on Daniel Brunner's 39-yard interception return for a score.

The Lynx faced fourth down at their own 27-yard line when Blandford blocked the kick by Rhodes' Steven Maki, then recovered the ball at the 11.

"Adam told me he thought he could get it," Frye said.

Four plays later, Adam Schneider caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Brian Behrendt. Centre tried to tie the game with an extra point, but Engleman had to improvise after a bad snap.

"When the snap was bad, I didn't want to put it down and give them a chance to block it," Engleman said. "I just rolled out and tried to make a play."

He first looked to pass, then bolted for the goal line when he saw his intended receiver was wrapped up.

"That was a great, heady play," Frye said.

And there were more of them to come. Jacob Coleman, a freshman cornerback brought into the game as a second-half substitution, broke up one of Daniel Swanstrom's passes on a third-down play and intercepted another on fourth down, giving the Colonels the ball back at their own 29.

Coleman said he probably should have knocked down rather than intercepted the second pass - "If he'd caught the ball, he probably would've ran for a touchdown" - and he said his big plays came about because everyone on the defensive unit did his job.

"We knew what they had to do, and we were in the right defense," he said. "I just played what I've always been taught."

Centre got the ball back with 2:00 left, but Rhodes had all three of its timeouts and would have had a chance to score had it stopped the Colonels quickly.

But Engleman made one more big play, grinding out 3 yards on a third-and-2 carry to give the Colonels a first down that allowed them to run out the clock.

"I think the biggest play in the game was when our offense was able to get that first down," Frye said.

It was the third straight carry for Engleman, who got 11 of his 52 yards rushing on that series.

"I just kept cutting back inside," he said.

Engleman turned a shovel pass from Brian Behrendt into a 42-yard scoring play and Blandford ran for a touchdown in the first quarter, and Chris Thompson kicked his first collegiate field goal in the second quarter to give Centre a 17-7 lead.

But Rhodes got one touchdown back late in the first half, then answered another Behrendt touchdown pass in the third quarter with 17 straight points to take the lead with 8:52 to play.

"When they scored late in the first half we went flat, and we came out in the third quarter and played flat," Frye said.

Behrendt was 22-for-34 for 208 yards, and he ran for another 20 yards.

John Ortega had 12 tackles and Jarrod Zywien had 11 for the Centre defense, and Jordan Martin had an interception that led to one of the Colonels' first-quarter scores.

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