Charlie Cole’s 10-yard touchdown run put the Trailblazers on top on their opening drive, which was a good sign for a team that likes to play with the lead.
Central’s Braden Gaston, however, had other ideas. The junior speedster returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for a tying touchdown, and the Bobcats never slowed down in a 49-7 victory over the Trailblazers in the TSSAA Class 5A football playoffs Friday night at Dan Y. Boring Stadium.
“That’s a pretty good football team right there,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “We knew we’d have to have a great effort coming down. We knew they were a really talented team. We didn’t execute as well as we wanted to, but hats off to them. We had a hard time blocking their front all night.”
Central (10-2) will host David Crockett next week in the state quarterfinals. The Pioneers (12-0) shut out Tennessee High 32-0 on Friday night.
GOOD START GONE BAD
Cole’s touchdown came at the end of a drive that took almost five minutes off the clock. It gave Boone (9-3) a jolt of momentum that was gone in the blink of an eye when Gaston went untouched for the tying score.
“That was major,” Central coach Bryson Rosser said. “For us, it’s been awhile since we had been down in a game. I talked to our kids about the challenge. Being down the first drive is kind of tough sometimes.”
Central scored on its next three possessions. Demetrien Johnson caught touchdown passes of 10 and 7 yards from Dakota Fawver, Gaston added a 25-yard touchdown run and the Bobcats led 28-7 at halftime.
Gaston returned the second half kickoff 77 yards for an apparent touchdown, but it was called back for an illegal block near the end of the play. It was one of three nullified touchdowns for the Bobcats, who had an interception and blocked punt for a score taken away by penalties.
That didn’t stop the Bobcats, though. Gaston scored on an 8-yard run for his third touchdown, putting Central up 35-7.
Makhi Anderson caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Fawver for a 42-7 lead with 6:06 left in the third quarter, triggering the continuous clock. Minutes later, it was 49-7 after a 45-yard punt return by Daunte Holliday.
Cole, the leading rusher in Region 1 with 1,815 yards going into the game, ran over the Central defense on the first drive but wasn’t a factor afterward. He finished with 39 yards on 12 carries. Twenty-three of his yards came on the opening drive.
“I don’t know anybody who has played them who didn’t try to stop Charlie Cole,” Rosser said. “He’s an unbelievable running back, a great kid. We had to plan for him.”
Quarterback Easton Harrell led Boone with 56 yards on 16 carries. Central outgained Boone 307-132 in total offense.
“This doesn’t take away from the year we had, 9-3, runner-up in our league playing a really tough schedule,” Jenkins said. “I’m proud of our team. We have to let this sink in for our guys and propel us into the offseason workouts.”