UTICA — Wyatt Ehlers and the Centennial offense were down but not out late in Friday’s game against Class C-2 No. 3 Yutan.
Trailing 25-21, Ehlers, the Broncos' junior quarterback, connected with senior running back Gavin Avery from 15-yards out on a wheel route with 41 seconds remaining to lift second-ranked Centennial to a 28-25 win.
The touchdown was Ehlers’ fourth on the night and eighth through the first two games of the season.
“We’re always confident in Wyatt,” Avery said. “We knew he could lead us down the field. He’s playing at the top of his game right now.”
The Broncos' game-winning drive covered 63-yards in 11 plays. It also came after Centennial had gotten only one first down in its four previous second-half possessions.
The Broncos' defense came up big, stuffing Yutan on a fourth-and-two to give Ehlers and the offense one more opportunity.
Ehlers said confidence wasn’t an issue heading into the game-winning drive.
“The whole time I had faith in my guys, they had faith in me, and we knew we were going to go down and score. We just leaked Gavin out of the backfield and he was wide open.”
Early on it looked like a late comeback would be far from necessary as the Broncos raced to a 21-6 lead midway through the second quarter.
Ehlers tossed a 6-yard TD to fellow junior Jackson Hirschfeld – his second scoring grab of the night – with 5:22 left in the half to put the Chieftains (0-2) on their heels trailing by 15.
However, Yutan would rattle off 19 unanswered points thanks to a powerful ground attack led by seniors Bryland Menicucci and Colton Feist.
Menicucci’s 26-yard TD run on the opening drive of the third quarter cut the lead to 21-19 before sophomore quarterback Griffin Hendricks’ 1-yard TD plunge on third-and-goal gave the Chieftains a 25-21 lead with 7:43 left.
“They have some big, physical kids,” Broncos coach Evan Klanecky said. “We’d have guys in position defensively and they were still getting five and six yards a pop.”
Ehlers finished 13-of-27 for 203 yards and four scores. Senior running back Jake Prochaska added 88 yards on 15 carries for Centennial (2-0).
The game-winning pass came on a play that Klanecky said they “drew up in the dirt.”
“We were waiting for the right time to run it,” he said. “We knew if we executed, we’d have it open. Gavin is a player that never comes off the field and Jake (Prochaska) is playing on a torn ACL. It was a barn burner of a game. Both teams played their tails off. Our kids – they don’t give up. It’s just a testament to them.”
CENTENNIAL 28, YUTAN 25
YUT--Menicucci 3 run (run failed)
CEN--Hirschfeld 63 pass from Ehlers (Gierhan kick)
CEN--Foreman 15 pass from Ehlers (Gierhan kick)
CEN--Hirschfeld 6 pass from Ehlers (Gierhan kick)
YUT--Hutton 66 run (run failed)
YUT--Menicucci 26 run (Hutton kick)
YUT--Hendricks 1 run (pass failed)
CEN--Avery 15 pass from Ehlers (Gierhan kick)
RUSHING--Yut, Menicucci 26-143, Hutton 3-64, Feist 10-55. Cen, Prochaska 15-88, Ehlers 9-30, Avery 6-17.
PASSING--Yut, Heuertz 3-4-0, 72, Hendricks 3-12-1, 52. Cen, Ehlers 13-27-0 203.
RECEIVING--Yut, Perchal 5-116, Leahy 1-8. Cen, Hirschfeld 5-116, Foreman 4-51, Haberman 2-27, Avery 1-15.