CHAMPAIGN — As time expired in Friday night’s crosstown rivalry football game between Centennial and Champaign Central at Tommy Stewart Field, Centennial coach Kyle Jackson was struck by one specific feeling.
“Relief,” he said with a laugh, “because we were only up 15-8 and the game was over.”
The feeling afterward?
Excitement, and lots of it.
Centennial is eligible for the playoffs for first time since 2015 with the aforementioned 15-8 victory over Central.
“It’s one of our biggest goals we set at the beginning of the year,” Jackson said. “It felt good to win a Twin City championship, but also to win that and have that win be what sends us to the playoffs.”
The Chargers (5-4) trailed the Maroons (2-7) 8-0 at halftime in the Big 12 Conference game, as Central pulled ahead on a 4-yard touchdown run by Matthew McMullen and a 2-point conversion pass. The Chargers responded with 15 points in the third quarter and held on from there.
“You want your team to ... band together and fight to come back,” Jackson said. “Second half we just got the ball moving a little bit more.”
Jack Young Jr. rushed for a touchdown with less than five minutes left in the third, and a 2-point conversion tied the game at 8.
Then Centennial got creative.
Quarterback Brady Boatright hit running back Brandon Harvey with a lateral pass, but Harvey lofted a throw of his own and found Young for the go-ahead points.
“We typically have at least one kind of trickery play ... and we don’t always call it,” Jackson said. “We came in (Friday) saying, ‘We need a time to call this play,’ and we found just that.”