The Boonville Pirates football team will look back at last night’s district playoff game against the Centralia Panthers and wonder what if they had scored from the Panthers 2-yard line at the 4:49 mark in the first quarter and what if they hadn’t had a touchdown called back due to a chop block with 14.4 seconds left in the opening period.
Although those two series seemed like a moot point at the time, the Pirates can only look back and wonder had they scored on those two possessions would the score be any different.
As it turned out, the Panthers wound up winning by a score of 20-17 to end Boonville’s season at 6-5 overall. Centralia, meanwhile, will advance to the championship in Class 3 District 6 against California, who notched its 11th win of the season with a 42-0 win over Chillicothe.
The championship game will be held on Monday, Nov. 5 in California starting at 7 p.m.
After the game last night, Boonville football coach Devin Brown said the game was like a heavyweight fight.
“Momentum-wise it shifted back and forth and you had plays by both teams,” Brown said. “I said it was going to happen and it was going to be a heck of a ballgame and it was. I told everybody that it was going to be seven points or less and it came down to 20-17 so it was a good football game.”
But even then the Pirates had their chances trailing 20-17 with 3:56 left and the ball at their own 40-yard line. While both teams accounted for only 10 points in the first half, the second half was more like a shootout.
Boonville also outscored Centralia 14-13 in the second half. However, after giving up the go-ahead touchdown on a 12-play, 71-yard drive at the 4:02 mark in the fourth after a 2-yard run by quarterback Zach Etzler, the Pirates had a chance to regain the lead while only 60 yards from the end zone.
However, after a loss of three yards and an illegal procedure to move the ball back to their own 37, the one thing the Pirates couldn’t afford to do happened when senior quarterback Jared Oser had a pass picked off at the Boonville 30 with 2:15 left.
The rest is history as Centralia did what they do best by moving the ball on the ground to run out the rest of the time on the clock for the victory.
The Panthers also made Boonville pay dearly with their potent running attack. While racking up over 411 yards of total offense in the game, Centralia had 352 yards on the ground compared to just 152 for Boonville. The Pirates, meanwhile, had more passing yards while throwing for 152 yards compared to just 59 for the Panthers.
Page 2 of 4 - Nonetheless, the first-two possessions would prove costly for Boonville while coming up short from the Centralia two on its first drive and then having a touchdown brought back.
The Panthers, meanwhile, took advantage of Boonville’s ineffectiveness on offense while moving the ball 81 yards on 14 plays for the score with 5:05 left in the second quarter to go up 7-0.
Although the drive took almost six minutes off the clock, Etzler’s 16-yard run up the gut after breaking a plethora of tackles was more demoralizing.
However, after exchanging punts, the Pirates made their own break when senior Jay Barnhart recovered a Centralia fumble at the Panthers 40 with 35.4 seconds left. Five plays later after using the sidelines to stop the clock, Brown elected to try a field goal this time from the Panthers 5 with 2.5 seconds remaining. The move paid off as Francis split the uprights on a 22-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.
Brown said you can’t waste the opportunities like the Pirates had against a good football team. “You have to get those when you can and you have to be able to do it,” Brown said. “I was debating whether to go for a field goal early and that’s why I went for three points later. You have to put points on the board but you also need a touchdown to beat these guys and not a field goal. When they were sending everybody and stopping the run we decided to throw it. It makes me itch to throw it and we did well throwing it. In the second half we came out and threw it a little bit and then we started running it and that’s what happens when you start throwing the ball. You loosen up the defense and then you can run the ball. Our last possession we just didn’t quite get it.”
Centralia also dominated the first half with 10 first downs and 236 yards of total offense compared to only four first downs and 139 yards of offense for the Pirates.
Of course all that meant little to start the second half as Boonville came out and initiated a 10-play, 76-yard drive for the score when Oser hit senior Damario Walker on a 29-yard scoring strike with 6:34 left to give Boonville its first lead at 10-7.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, they were unable to hold Centralia out of the end zone on its next drive as the Panthers came back and put together a seven-play, 62-yard drive for the touchdown after a 24-yard run by Etzler with 3:04 remaining to go up by a score of 14-10.
The Pirates, meanwhile, proved to be their own worst enemy after the ensuing kick off by putting the ball on the ground at the Centralia 36. However, after holding the Panthers to just six plays, Boonville came back from its own 42 and hit paydirt for the second time on a 3-yard run by Oser to make it 17-14 with 9:30 left in the game.
Page 3 of 4 - Now the bad news. After regaining the lead, the Pirates could do little to stop Centralia as the Panthers marched the ball 71 yards on 12 plays for the touchdown. The 2-yard run by Etzler, which was his third touchdown of the ball, put Centralia up for good by a score of 20-17 with 4:02 remaining.
The Panthers then picked off a pass by Oser in the closing minutes to end the game.
Brown said it’s always tough when you go back and look at 3-4 plays that change the game. “I told the kids not to let those 3-4 plays comeback and haunt them,” Brown said. “We didn’t tackle very well but Centralia is a good football team. That quarterback is good and the offensive line is well coaches and they have always been well coached. The Etzler kid had a good game and he is a hard runner, but when we look back at this game their offensive line blocked really well and the guys up front win and lose ballgames. Their offensive line probably had a little bit better game than we did tonight. They are just a good football team and they always have been.”
As for the season, Brown said his team could have went in the tank after going 0-3 but they battled through it and won some games. He said that’s the way this game played out.
“We could have hung it up after playing bad in the first half but we didn’t so I am proud of them for that. It’s just one of those things where we didn’t make it through.”
For the game, Centralia had 19 first downs compared to just 10 for Boonville. Etzler also rushed 22 times for 121 yards and three touchdowns while Austin Kinkead added 21 carries for 100 yards and Cullen Ralphs with two carries for 46 yards.
Etzler also completed 6 of 10 passes for 59 yards, while Denver Horn had two receptions for 33 yards and Gannon Peavler two catches for 24 yards.
For Boonville, Kelsey Callaway had 14 carries for 83 yards. Dakota Meyer had three carries for 28 yards while Oser added six carries for 18 yards and one touchdown and Jacob Francis with six carries for 8 yards.
Oser also completed 10 of 13 passes for 152 yards with one interception.
Of course Damario Walker had a big night for the Pirates with seven catches for 118 yards and one touchdown while Jay Barnhart added two catches for 17 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Oser led all tacklers with 13 solo stops and four assisted tackles for a total of 17.
Tanner Green had six solo stops and four assisted tackles, followed by Jalen Poindexter with five solo stops and four assisted tackles, Jay Barnhart with five solo stops and three assisted tackles, Dakota Meyer with five solo stops and two assisted tackles, Kelsey Callaway with four solo stops, three assisted tackles, one sack and one caused fumble, Tyler Peterson with one solo stop and four assisted tackles, Gus Kemp with two solo stops and two assisted tackles, Jordan Weaver with one solo stop, two assisted tackles and one interception, Damario Walker and Brennan Hammers each with one solo stops and two assisted tackles, Andrew Broyhill with one solo stop, one assisted tackle and one forced fumble and Kyle Cook with one assisted tackle.
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