ENNIS – For the past four weeks, Burleson Centennial had been working the play. But on Friday night, the execution wasn’t there when the Spartans needed it the most.
Trailing 17-13 with just over a minute to play, the Spartans stared a fourth-and-goal from the Ennis 5 in the face.
Everything seemed to work on the play. Jaylon Jackson took the snap from a Wildcat formation, faked the handoff and lofted jump pass to wide-open Monte Johnson in the middle of the end zone.
But the pass fell short and Ennis was able to hold on for a 17-13 victory in a Class 5A Division II Region II area-round playoff game at Lion Memorial Stadium.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow, that’s for sure,” Centennial coach Kyle Geller said. “It was there and we just missed it. It’s unfortunate and it just eats me up that it was Jaylen. He’s done so much for us, we wouldn’t be where we are without him.”
Even after the pass, Centennial’s defense rose up and stopped Ennis on three plays and seemed to have forced the Lions to punt with less than a minute to play. But on third down, the Spartans were hit with a dead ball unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that gave the Lions a first down, and Ennis was able to run out the clock after that.
“It’s a tough way to end the season,” Geller said. “I don’t want to take anything away from the things this team accomplished. I felt like we should have won the game and we should still be playing, and that’s hard to swallow. I thought we had the team that could make a run. We had a chance to beat them and we didn’t beat them.”
The Spartans (10-2) saw an eight-game winning streak come to an end. Ennis (11-1) will face Frisco (11-1) in a regional quarterfinal game at 1 p.m. Friday at Mesquite Memorial Stadium.
A failed point-after kick attempt following Centennial’s first score had the Spartans chasing that point the rest of the game. Johnson, the holder, attempted a pass on the point-after kick that was incomplete. The Spartans' first score came on a 54-yard run by Chris Mosley.
At the end of the first quarter, Centennial lead 13-7 thanks to a seven-yard run by Phillip Hamilton. The Lions sandwiched scoring runs of two yards and one yard by quarterback Collin Drake to hold a 14-13 lead at halftime.
The Spartans had an opportunity to take the lead in the final minute of the first quarter but a 27-yard field goal was wide. It marked the first of two times that Centennial failed to come away with points in the red zone.
“We got inside the red zone a couple of times and didn’t score,” Geller said. “You can’t do that in a game like this. When you get inside the red zone, you have to get points.”
Ennis made the most of its lone trip to the red zone in the second half when Angel Aguilar converted a 28-yard field goal that put the Lions up 17-13 just 12 seconds into the fourth quarter.