By Dusty Bryan, 5star preps contributor
The Central High School football team almost overcame several turnovers in their season opener Thursday night.
Trailing 19-14 late in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats had a goal line fumble on what would have been a go-ahead touchdown. This final miscue proved to be insurmountable for the Bobcats, and visiting Tennessee High escaped Joel Helton Field with a 19-16 victory.
Central seemed to have all the momentum early. The Bobcats got on the scoreboard first when junior running back Jason Merritts scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to give his team an early lead. Merritts led the Bobcats with 58 yards and two scores.
After the opening touchdown, the Bobcats (0-1) forced the Vikings to punt again and looked poised to go ahead two scores. But after a few big plays and a personal foul penalty put the Bobcats inside the red zone, the possession began to unravel and ultimately ended with a fumble.
The Vikings (1-0) got on the scoreboard late in the first half when junior quarterback Cole McBrayer scored on a 13-yard quarterback keeper on third-and-long. Kelvin Coleman added an interception return for a touchdown, giving the Vikings a 13-7 halftime lead.
Nevertheless, the Bobcats pulled ahead again when Merritts scored on a 13-yard run to give the Bobcats a 14-13 lead. But McBrayer scored on another quarterback keeper to give the Vikings a 19-14 lead in the fourth quarter.
The Bobcats put together another quick drive. But the goal-line fumble that ended it wasn’t the end of the drama, though. Trailing 19-16 after an intentional safety by Tennessee High, the Bobcats regained possession and put together yet another promising drive. A sack in the final seconds ended the Bobcats’ comeback, though.
Central quarterback Dakota Fawver was 13-for-15 passing for 199 yards. Senior defensive back Xavier Washington, who was banged up in the jamboree last week, led the Bobcats defense with 17 tackles.
Central’s start to the season gets more challenging next week, as the Bobcats will face rival Fulton on Thursday.