Centennial running back Trevor DeBlieck runs the ball down the field while the Bengals try to pull him down at their home game against Blaine. The Cougars beat the Bengals in overtime 29-28. Photo by Meagan Lynch, SportsEngine
Centennial senior quarterback Ryan Koob throws the ball across the field in the Cougars' home win against Blaine. The Cougars beat the Bengals in overtime 29-28. Photo by Meagan Lynch, SportsEngine
Stakes are high in Class 6A, Section 5, so one can’t really blame Centennial coach Mike Diggins’ inclination to gamble with the direction of his team’s season.
Faced with the choice of kicking an extra point after the touchdown to pull even with Blaine (3-3, 2-3) in overtime, or opting to go for two points and the win, Diggins went for the latter on Friday night.
As Cougars senior quarterback Ryan Koob kept the ball on a read option and plunged across the goal line for a touchdown that capped off a thrilling 29-28 win over the rival Bengals, all the hopes and ambitions for a team with so much initial promise was restored.
“With two minutes to go, I told our offensive coordinator to be ready to go for two if this thing goes to overtime,” Diggins said.
“Firstly, it was out of respect for No. 1, [Byron] Bynum. He’s so good. And second, we figured we’d try to freeze them and make them jump to get it down to 1 and a half yards. But even if they didn’t jump, we were still going to go for it,” he added.
The victory served as a signature win for the Cougars, who are ranked No. 6 in the Class 6A Associated Press poll, and keeps alive their chances for a Metro North subdistrict title in one of the metro’s fiercest leagues that includes four teams ranked in the top 10.
Koop helped engineer the second-half comeback with a pair of third quarter touchdown passes in a deviation of what the option-heavy Cougars (5-1, 4-1) typically implement.
Centennial ran for 384 yards on the ground, but it was the passing game that saved them Friday night. Though Koob was just 5-of-9 for 93 yards, timing was everything as the Cougars took what the Blaine defense was giving them, and made it work.
“Ryan can throw the ball too,” Diggins said of his quarterback. “If [other teams] want to play up on us, then we can go deep and still beat you.”
Koob was more than willing to show another side of the offense.
“We don’t like to throw the ball in the red zone normally,” he said. “But we’ve got some great receivers and we saw a situation where maybe we could exploit the pass based on what [the defense] was doing. The guys executed it well, and it worked.”
No. 9-6A Blaine struck first in the game, and also in overtime after scoring on its first play with a 10-yard run by Bynum.
Two plays later, Centennial was in the end zone as well, hammered in on a six-yard run by Sam Bonfe that set up the winning conversion. Bonfe finished with a game-high 204 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.
There was no doubt or concern about a momentum swing. It was just business at hand for Centennial.
“We felt like, with our offensive line, it’s very tough to stop us from getting two yards,” Koob said. “Nobody in the huddle had any doubt about this. We executed it, and we wound up in the end zone.
“Everyone came together and played like a family tonight. It was awesome.”
The win keeps Centennial locked at the top of the subdistrict standings with St. Michael-Albertville in what could be a four-team race that includes Totino-Grace and Champlin Park. But important as it may be, the Cougars will pocket this win and get back to work Monday.
“All the teams in our district are good,” Koob said. “It’s going to be neck-and-neck, and these games are pretty pivotal, and you need to play every game like it is the game that can earn you a No. 1 seed.”
Centennial, ranked No. 6 in the Class 6A Associated Press poll, converted a gutsy two-point conversion in overtime to knock off Blaine 29-28 Friday night in Circle Pines.
Cougars’ quarterback Ryan Koob, who helped engineer a second-half comeback with a pair of third quarter touchdown passes, kept the ball on a read option and plunged into the end zone for a decisive score that keeps Centennial (5-1, 4-1) in the thick of the race for the top spot in District 6.
No. 9-6A Blaine (3-3, 2-3) struck first in overtime, scoring on its first play with a 10-yard run by Byron Bynum, Jr.
Two plays later, Centennial was also in the end zone, hammering in a six-yard run by Sam Bonfe that set up the winning conversion.
Bonfe finished with a game-high 204 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.
Bynum finished with 108 yards and two touchdowns for the Bengals.
Blaine defensive back Michael Gottschalk intercepts the ball intended for Centennial running back Andrew Renneke and scores a touchdown for the Bengals in Circle Pines. The Bengals lost to the Cougars in overtime 29-28. Photo by Meagan Lynch, SportsEngine
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