Centre's defense steps up and shuts out Sewanee

October 03, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

The Centre College defense found something it could sink its teeth into, and the Colonels weren't about to let go.

After giving up ground at an alarming rate in their first four games, Centre's defenders stood tall Saturday in the team's first shutout victory in nearly six years.

The Colonels slammed the door on Sewanee time after time in a 28-0 victory at Farris Stadium, and they said they enjoyed every minute of it.

"We just had fun," Centre linebacker Jarrod Zywien said. "In some of our other games we've been a little more serious and a little less fun."


It was easy for the Colonels to enjoy themselves after holding Sewanee to 216 yards, by far the lowest total they've allowed all season.

Sewanee's running game, the engine that drives the Tigers' offense, managed only 5 net yards, or an average of about 5 inches per rushing attempt.

"We took them out of what they wanted to do best," Centre coach Andy Frye said. "We knew if they were able to run the football on us, which is what they wanted to do, we'd have trouble."

Centre (3-2, 1-1 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference) had no trouble stopping Sewanee (1-4, 0-1), probably because the Colonels knew what was coming.

Frye said Centre's scout team offense did an excellent job of replicating Sewanee's offense, so the Colonels knew just what to expect when the Tigers came at them.

Centre's offense was able to run with relative efficiency against a stingy Sewanee defense.

"Sewanee's defense is pretty good, and I was pleased with the fact that we scored 28 points on them," Frye said.

Centre passed for 343 of its 376 yards, with quarterback Brian Behrendt throwing for 325 yards and all three of his team's touchdowns.

Behrendt threw six passes to David Crowley for 67 yards and four to Lou Brenner for 131 yards. Brenner made a leaping catch as two Sewanee defenders collided behind him, then raced the final 45 yards to the end zone on a 69-yard play that opened the scoring early in the second quarter.

Behrendt also threw touchdown passes of 15 yards to Nick Warren in the third quarter and 73 yards to Adam Clark in the fourth.

Britt has two long punt returns

The Colonels also capitalized on two long punt returns by Jeremy Britt that led directly to 10 of their points. The Danville High School graduate returned a punt 48 yards to the Sewanee 10-yard line, eluding everyone but the punter to set up the first of two Chris Thompson field goals late in the first half. In the third quarter, his 57-yard return to the Sewanee 18 led to Centre's second touchdown two plays later.

But the day belonged to the Centre defense. This year's team had allowed an average of 419 yards and 31.3 points in four games, and Centre had played 53 games since its last shutout, a 20-0 win over DePauw on Oct. 31, 1998.

"You can't do better than zero," linebacker Nathan Fell said.

And the Colonels proved up to the challenge no matter how close the Tigers came to scoring. The Colonels' first four foes had scored on each of their 15 trips inside the 20-yard line, but Sewanee came up empty on all three of its visits to the red zone.

"We haven't exactly been spectacular in the red zone this year, but we did a good job today of shutting them down," Zywien said.

"We've been terrible," Frye said, "but we were finally able to play in the red zone, and that's something we're going to try to get some confidence from."

Fell had a team-high 18 tackles for Centre, including eight solos. Zywien had two of the Colonels' six sacks and 11 stops in all, and defensive end Matt Johnson had 10 tackles.

And all of them seemed to have a wonderful time.

"Everybody that's here playing is playing because they love to play football," Fell said. "We really just were having a great time out there."

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