Central loses, 19-14
The streak is over.
When two Panthers fight, one loses.
This time it was Centralia.
Centralia lost to Palmrya 19-14.
It was almost another storybook ending the same as what Centralia wrote in Bowling Green two weeks earlier.
Almost, however, does not win football games. But even as they walked off Palmyra’s artificial turf, Centralia Head Coach Tyler Forsee and his Centralia Panthers had already shrugged off the nail-biting, teeth-grinding four-point loss and were planning their march through the district championship bracket.
Centralia’s combination of Beau Gordon at quarterback and Luke Hunter at running back paid dividends for the Panthers
But it took some time for them to find their groove. Palmyra was able to effectively run the football in the first quarter and a half, then Centralia got much better in containing it,” said one observer.
Before that happened though, Palmyra scored twice; at 9:40 in the first with a 50-yard Hayes Miller run followed by a point-after kick, then five minutes later with a seven-yard rush by Palmyra quarterback Brody Lehenbauer. Centralia stymied that extra-point kick.
Centralia hit back two minutes later, with Gordon faking one way, pivoting and slamming the ball into Hunter’s waiting hands. Hunter ran it 54 chilly yards for a touchdown, followed by Hunter Phillips catching a Gordon pass for a two-point conversion.
The first quarter ended 13-8, Centralia,
“Both teams had opportunities at the end of the half to score,” one observer said. “Centralia had it inside their 20 and later Palmyra drove down inside our 10. The first may have been Centralia’s worst quarter defensively, because Palmyra was getting around the edge. Centralia made some adjustments and put a stop to that.”
Palmyra’s new turf field experienced a touchdown drought in the third and fourth quarters.
Neither team scored.
Then Centralia seized the lead in at 8:31 in the fourth when Hunter burned through the Palmyra line for a seven-yard touchdown, to put Centralia on top, 14-13, but Centralia could not extend it when Palmyra blocked their two-
“Palmyra had the momentum early in the game but we did a pretty good job of blunting it,” One observer said. “We did lead for a while. The teams were pretty evenly matched. You have to play nearly perfectly to win against a team that is almost identical.”
Panther fans were not holding their breaths in the last five minutes of the game, they were cheering loudly, drowning out Palmyra’s from the other side of the field, though it was the first time of the season, 90-plus minutes northeast of Centralia, that Centralia fans were out-numbered.
Then with 3:36 left, Lehenbauer compted a 48-yard pass to Abe Haerr to put Palmyra up, despite a failed two-point conversion, 19-14.
Literally, by the last second of the game, after the referees reversed a call and gave Centralia one second left to score at the end of a Gordon passing
drive, Centralia was in position to score, but it was not to be another Bowling Green.
The horn sounded, and Centralia was no longer undefeated.
Centralia, now 7-1 goes into the District 4 Tournament, seeded second behind 8-1 Blair Oaks and ahead of third-seed, 6-3 California. Boonville is seeded fifth with a 5-3 record and Macon sixth-seed with a 3-4 record.
For more, see next week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.