The game of the night in the Southern Section playoffs
featured two teams that have played each other for the championship the past four seasons and expected to engage in a shootout. Corona Centennial averages 58.8 points a game, Vista Murrieta 47.2. But the offensive
fireworks that seemed imminent was undone by cold weather and stiff defense.
Second-seeded Centennial, for the second year in a row, won the Inland Division championship over top-seeded Vista Murrieta in a game that featured actual defense.
Who would have figured?
Score: Corona Centennial 26, Vista Murrieta 12
Key Stats: Tre Watson rushed 48 times for 304 yards and two touchdowns for Centennial. The Huskies defense shut down a Vista Murrieta team that had scored 57, 52 and 56 points in three playoff games, holding them to 247 yards of offense.
Pivotal Moment: Centennial had just taken a 14-3 lead late in the first quarter on Watson’s 11-yard scoring run, but Vista Murrieta answered with Kwesi Mashack’s 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. One problem. It was negated by a penalty. The Broncos eventually punted, and Centennial responded with a 98-yard drive to go up 20-3. Had Mashack's touchdown stood, it would have quieted Centennial's home crowd and taken back momentum. Instead, it was another setback in a night of setbacks.
Quotable: “We have come so far, it has been unbelievable,” said Centennial coach Matt Logan. “Each team has their battles and we certainly had ours, especially the way the defense responded after last week … and tonight they were absolutely phenomenal.”
Records: Centennial (12-2), Vista Murrieta (12-2)Notes: This is Centennial’s fifth Inland Division title since 2007. … Watson scored on runs of 5 and 8 yards in the first quarter. … Robert Webber passed for two touchdowns, of 20 yards to Eric Locklin in the second quarter for a 20-3 lead, and 85 yards to Greyson Bankhead in the fourth for the game’s final margin. … Webber completed 13 of 23 for 207 yards. … Vista Murrieta’s scoring came on two field goals and a double pass against a defense that surrendered 56 points a week ago. … The field goals by Aaron Ruth were 30 and 45 yards. The first made it 7-3, the second 20-6. … Vista Murrieta scored at the end of the first half when Coltin Gerhart passed a lateral to Randy Beggs, who passed downfield to Darryl Denby for a 21-yard score. The PAT was blocked but Vista Murrieta pulled to within 20-12. … The Vista Murrieta offense, which had averaged 406 yards per game, couldn’t find the end zone in the second half. The Broncos gained only 247 yards in the game. … Gerhart finished 10 of 19 for 79 yards. He rushed 15 times for 28. … How improbable was it that this game would have only 38 points scored? Consider this: Centennial had gained a national record 946 yards in an 86-56-victory over Upland in the semifinals. Before that, the Huskies beat Etiwanda, 56-23, and Chaparral, 49-14. Vista Murrieta had beaten Los Osos, 57-14, Charter Oak, 52-7, and Norco, 56-19. The over/under could have been 100 points and no one would have flinched. … One or both of these two teams has been in the finals the past seven seasons. This was Vista Murrieta’s fifth consecutive appearance in the Inland Division title game, but the Broncos have only one victory. … The victory Friday was Centennial coach Matt Logan’s 185th (against 41 losses) in 17 seasons. ... Centennial is likely to be chosen to participate in next week's State Regional Game, either in Open or Division I.