By RANDY CAVN
Special to The Messenger
Obion Central did all the right things for the first 18 minutes of its game against Dyersburg Friday night.
From then on, however, it was all Trojans.
Dyersbuurg scored 37 points in the last six minutes of the first half and went on to beat the Rebels 58-23 at J.C. Sawyer Stadium, bringing an end to Central’s frustrating 2012 season.
A season that began with high expectations ended with a flip-flop of last year’s wins and losses totals, the Rebels finishing with a 2-8 record after posting an 8-2 regular season record a year ago. Central finished a disappointing 1-6 in District 13AA, its only win coming against Gibson County.
The Rebels did everything right in their first drive of the game, mixing up the pass with the ground game and even a trick play on the first play from scrimmage. Sophomore tailback Bryce Warner took the hand-off, which brought linebackers and the secondary in, and then found Blake Rudd wide open for a 29-yard gain.
Sophomore quarterback Blake Berner hit Trent Mann for a 29-yard pick-up after a couple of running plays. That set up Warner’s four-yard run to give the Rebels the early lead. From there, the OC defense did its job and forced Oshawn Smith to fumble with Mann recovering it just three plays into Dyersburg’s first drive.
The Rebels took over at the Trojans’ 42 and got the ball down to the 19 before the drive stalled and the Trojans took over on downs. But, Dyersburg could not do anything with the ball, and a short punt gave the Rebels good field position. Central fumbled away possession, though, eight plays later in the second quarter.
Dyersburg’s Will Brad-shaw got the Rebels to bite on a play-action and hit Willie Toles for a 52-yard gain down to the Obion 18, but the Trojans could get no closer than the 14 as Central took over on downs. The Rebels went three-and-out, and then a bad punt gave the Trojans the short field to set up a Dyersburg score three plays later with 5:59 to play in the half.
From that point on, it was all Dyersburg as the game came unraveled for the Rebels.
Central was forced into another punting situation, and a bad snap resulted in a botched punt. A sideline penalty gave the Trojans the ball at their own 48, and D’burg scored on Smith’s 52-yard run on the next play with 1:30 to play in the half.
Dyersburg scored again just eight seconds later when Jamael Lunsford tipped Berner’s pass at the 17 and scored on the interception. The extra point made it 29-7 with 1:22 to play in the half. The Trojans scored once again with 10 seconds to play in the half when Smith intercepted Berner for a 75-yard touchdown.
“We started off really good with a good game plan,” Central head coach Shawn Jackson said. “We put some good drives together. We missed some tackles and had two bad punts, and that flipped the field with those punts.”
Central’s starting center went down with an injury last week and that played into the botched punts.
“Give our kids credit because they played really, really hard,” Jackson said. “I am no more proud than I am with this group of kids.”
This is the first season the 18 seniors on the team will be missing the playoffs after making the postseason from 2009 through the 2011 seasons.
“These guys have had a better four-year run at Central than anybody in school history,” Jackson said about his group of seniors. “That is my impression on those guys. They made the playoffs three out of the four years, and not many people can say that. They won a bunch of games and won some playoff games.”
The earlier rain on Friday made the football field a soggy mess, and the strong north wind did not help the playing conditions, but Jackson said that was just football weather.
“I enjoyed it,” Jackson said. “That is football weather and this is what football is suppose to be like. I wish they were all this way.”
The Trojans scored twice more in the third quarter on Shavon Henderson’s 25-yard run and Clint Perkins 10-yard TD reception. The Rebels got back on the board on Berner’s 20-yard toss to Josh Floyd in the third quarter.
The Trojans scored one more time in the final quarter, and Central scored its final TD on Berner’s 30-yard scoring pass to Rudd with just over a minute to play.
Berner finished with 196 yards on 20-of-46 passing with two touchdowns. Berner also had 57 yards on the ground to lead all rushers. Rudd had seven catches for 98 yards and one score.
If there is one thing Jackson can count on, it is the fan base for Central. Even with a disappointing season the fans still showed up in droves.
“I want to thank the fans for supporting us this season,” Jackson said. “I think we have the best fans anywhere in the area. They have always been there for us.”
Published in The Messenger 10.29.12