VIDEO AND PHOTOS: Center High School stuns Kilgore to keep playoff hopes alive
There was a point early in the second quarter when a valid question could be poised as to whether it was time to start the Center High School basketball season.
After all, the Roughrider football team trailed a must-win game 28-0 to Kilgore. Center had no first downs and seemed hapless in trying to stop the Top 10-ranked Bulldogs' option offense.
But in a three-play span, Center showed a spark that eventually fueled an inferno that engulfed Kilgore in a stunning 49-35 loss that kept Center's playoff hopes alive.
The win improved Center to 3-3 in 4A-Div. 1 District 9 play. Center has a bye next week. If Palestine looses to Henderson next week, Center will have the fourth and final playoff spot. If Palestine wins, Center will be thrown into a number of tiebreakers. Few of the tie-breakers favor Center as it lost to Palestine earlier this season.
But in posting its first home win of the season in its final home game of the season, the young Roughriders showed a tenacity and drive to seize control of the game. It was Center's first home win since Oct. 7, 2016 vs. Chapel Hill -- a span of five games at Roughrider Stadium.
The comeback started in the second quarter as Sophomore quarterback Jayden Hicks threw the ball more than 40 yards and senior wide receiver Jaterious Evans made a perfect over-the-shoulder catch and run for a 79-yard touchdown to cut Kilgore's lad to 28-7 with 7:36 left in the second quarter.
After the defense stopped Kilgore on its own one, Center ran one play to push the ball out to the three. Hicks then connected with Evans for a 97-yard touchdown play as Evans again got behind the Bulldogs' secondary, caught the ball in stride near midfield and ran the ball in. The PAT was blocked, making the score 28-13 heading into the half.
While Center's players sensed a momentum shift, it was Kilgore that took the opening kickoff of the second half and mounting a 7-play, 70-yard scoring drive to make the score a seemingly safe 35-13 margin.
But Center, which only had one first down in the first half, responded with a 76-yard scoring drive capped by Hicks' 17-yard scoring strike to Kaleb Parks to make the score 35-20.
Then, the offensive wheels came off for Kilgore. Three lost fumbles and a missed field goal lead to four Center touchdowns -- two on runs by Hicks and two from Evans -- on a 41-yard reception and a 3-yard run.
When the dust had settles, Center had scored 36 unanswered points.
It was the second consecutive season that Center came from behind to beat Kilgore. Last season, it was a 40-39 game.
K: 23-yard touchdown run. PAT good. 7-0
K: 27-yard touchdown run. PAT good. 14-0
K: Fumble recovery. PAT good. 21-0
K: 1-yard run. PAT good. 28-0
C: Jayden Hicks 79-yard pass to Jaterious Evans. PAT good. 28-7
C: Jayden Hicks 97-yard pass to Jaterious Evans. PAT blocked. 28-13
K: 10-yard run. PAT good. 35-13
C: Jayden Hicks 17-yard pass to Kaleb Parks. PAT good. 35-20
C: Jayden Hicks 1-yard run. PAT good. 35-27
C: Jayden hicks 1-yard run. Parks 2-PAT. 35-35
C: Jayden Hicks 41-yard pass to Jaterious Evans. PAT good. 42-35
C: Jaterious Evans 3-yard run. PAT good. 49-35
4A District 9 Standings
Carthage 5-0, 9-0
Kilgore 3-2, 6-3
Henderson 3-2, 6-3
Center, 3-3, 3-7
Palestine 2-3, 3-6
Bullard 2-3, 3-6
Chapel Hill 0-5, 3-6
This week’s games
• Center 49, Kilgore 35
• Carthage 49, Palestine 31
• Henderson 41, Bullard 14
* Chapel Hill has a bye
Next week’s games
• Henderson vs. Palestine
• Bullard vs. Kilgore
• Carthage vs. Chapel Hill
• Center: Bye week
2017 Center Roughriders
Sept. 1 L @ Rusk 48-21
Sept. 8 L vs. Gilmer 56-17
Sept. 15 L Gladewater 17-3**
Sept. 22 L @ Diboll 45-42
Sept. 29 W @ Bullard* 39-35
Oct. 6 L vs. Palestine* 42-21
Oct. 13 W @ Chapel Hill* 40-28
Oct. 20 L vs. Carthage* 42-12
Oct. 27 L @ Henderson* 27-14
Nov. 3 W vs. Kilgore* 49-35
Nov. 10 BYE