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high school football:

Las Vegas erases double-digit deficit to beat Centennial

Victor’s two second-half touchdowns overshadow 200-plus rushing yards from Centennial’s Jacobi Owens

Las Vegas Beats Centennial 24-21

Justin M. Bowen

Las Vegas High running back Farrell Victor outruns the Centennial defense for a 55-yard run touchdown run Friday, September 2, 2011, at Centennial High School. Las Vegas came from behind for a 24-21 win.

Las Vegas rallies past Centennial, 24-21

Las Vegas running back Farrell Victor stiff arms Centennial defensive player  during their game Friday, September 2, 2011 at Centennial High School. .  Las Vegas came from behind for a 24-21 win. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas defeats Centennial, 24-21

KSNV coverage of Las Vegas High's 24-21 victory over Centennial in the High School Game of the Week, Sept. 2, 2011.

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At times Friday night, it appeared running backs Farrell Victor of Las Vegas High and Jacobi Owens of Centennial were involved in a personal competition.

Victor rushed for 199 yards and two touchdowns, scoring the game winner on a 55-yard run with 4:34 to play to lead the Wildcats’ football team to a 24-21 victory against host Centennial.

Victor’s efforts, however, were nearly overshadowed by those of Owens. He carried the ball 41 times for 237 yards and also had a 55-yard touchdown run.

Las Vegas trailed 21-10 at halftime, but Victor scored on a 16-yard run with 3:15 to play in the third quarter to cut the deficit to four points. Then he stole the show from Owens down the stretch.

Las Vegas High's Farrell Victor

Las Vegas High running back Farrell Victor talks about the 2011 high school football season.

On the decisive touchdown, the 5-foot-8, 175-pound Victor appeared tackled behind the line of scrimmage for a loss, but he avoided being brought down and outraced three Centennial tacklers to the end zone. His acceleration in sprinting to the end zone was downright impressive.

“He is everything as advertised, he really is,” Centennial coach Leon Evans said of Victor. “If you don’t wrap that guy up, he will hurt you.”

Centennial and Owens nearly answered back.

Owens carried the ball time and time again in leading the Bulldogs into scoring position with less than a minute remaining. On a fourth-down play from the 7-yard line, Centennial attempted to go for the win with a pass into the back of the end zone instead of trying to even the score with a short field goal attempt. Najeem Popal hauled in the pass from Austin Turley, but he landed out of bounds to give Las Vegas the win.

It’s a win that didn’t seem obtainable early.

The Wildcats (2-0) were pushed around in the first half and gave Centennial plenty of chances by fumbling the ball away three times. In the second half, however, they were the clear aggressor, limiting Centennial to just seven plays in the third quarter in rallying for the win.

“We knew we’d be in for a fight,” Las Vegas coach James Thurman said. “To sneak out of here with a win, we won’t complain. We saw some adversity and the kids got through it. They stuck together as a family.”

Trailing by 11 points at halftime, Victor and senior quarterback Hasaan Henderson spoke to their teammates during the break about picking up the intensity. The message resulted in an inspired second-half effort.

“Farrell and I got together with the team and told them not to quit. No matter what happens, don’t quit,” said Henderson, who completed 7 of 11 passes, including a 74 yard touchdown pass to Jace Turner in the first half. “We have a lot of younger guys (that hadn’t been in that situation) and they look up to us for leadership.”

Victor, who last week rushed for three touchdowns and more than 200 yards, showed why he is considered one of Southern Nevada’s elite running backs. His efforts combined with Las Vegas’ never-say-die-attitude, gives the perennial power Wildcats a major boost of confidence heading into league play.

You could see the swagger in their step as the walked from their sideline to the bus after the game. Not bad for a team that only returned a few starters and struggled to a 30-25 win last week against Snow Canyon of Utah.

“We came out here and made a statement as a team,” Victor said. “We worked hard and got it done like we were supposed to.”

After dominating the first half, Centennial has plenty of reasons to be optimistic. But the Bulldogs, who last year advanced to the Sunset Regional semifinals, have to fix their miscues before next week when they play Northwest Division power Arbor View.

“When you come out and dominate the first half like we did, you have to get a win,” Evans said. “You have to play a full four quarters and we didn’t do that.”

Popal scored Centennial’s first touchdown on a 20-yard reception from Turley.

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