Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 | 2 a.m.
The Bulldogs went out of their way during warm-ups to run down the home team’s sideline, hollering taunts and waving their team flag at the neighborhood-rival Aggies.
“I didn’t even have to give a pregame speech,” Arbor View coach Dan Barnson said. “That gave the pregame speech for me.”
Centennial provoked Arbor View, and ultimately paid the consequences with an eighth consecutive loss in the regular-season series. Arbor View 17, Centennial 14.
It was a landmark victory that brought the Aggies back-to-back Northwest division championships for the first time in school history along with a 50th regular season win over the last six years.
“I’m really proud of how far this program has come,” Barnson said.
Despite the close score, Arbor View only ever trailed for a few minutes. The Aggies came out steaming after the Bulldogs’ show of disrespect.
The defense forced an immediate three-and-out, and the offense followed with a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage on a 34-yard run from senior Morris Jackson. Senior cornerback Noah Noce got a fumble recovery on Centennial’s next play to set up a 45-yard field goal from senior kicker James Drye.
Arbor View had 10 points before Centennial had five yards, which swapped the role of antagonist in the chippy contest.
“I know most of the kids on Centennial so there’s always a lot of trash talking,” Noce said.
The Bulldogs stabilized, and came to life behind Jamaal Evans. The junior quarterback had 167 total yards and was practically Centennial’s only offense with its other ball carriers combining to gain 26 yards on 20 carries.
Evans rolled out and rushed for a touchdown on a fourth-down play from the three-yard line in the second quarter. After the Bulldogs recovered a pooch kick to open the second half, Evans brought them down to the goal line again.
A dive over a defender gave him a 1-yard touchdown and Centennial an improbable 14-10 lead despite being well behind Arbor View in yardage.
“I knew we were going to go score,” sophomore running back Deago Stubbs said. “I felt like we had it.”
Facing a deficit, Arbor View managed its best drive. The Aggies went 70 yards in seven and a half minutes on 15 plays.
Stubbs carried the ball 11 times during the possession including running the same play eight times behind senior tackle Keenen King and senior tight end Gage Motl, whom Barnson challenged to double-team Centennial star defensive tackle Greg Rogers. Stubbs got the bulk of the production, but junior quarterback Hayden Bollinger punched in the score on a sneak from less than a half-yard out.
“(Stubbs) is a great running back,” Noce said. “In the future, he’s going to be the All-Star of our team. He carried us in this game.”
Arbor View’s defense emerged on the next two Centennial possessions, with junior linebacker Andrew Wagner stuffing Evans in the open field on a third-down scramble before Noce later corralled his second fumble of the game.
Evans got the ball back one last time at Centennial’s own 13-yard line with two minutes to go. He zipped long passes to junior receiver Savon Scarver and senior receiver Tyler Hennis to quickly arrive in Arbor View territory.
On third-and-11 from the 29-yard line with a minute to go, a pass tipped off Scarver’s fingertips in the end zone.
“I was holding my breath,” Barnson said. “You just want it to go your way so badly.”
Barnson called timeout, and stressed the magnitude of the next play to his defense. Scarver caught a fourth-down pass, but met a wall compromised of Wagner and Noce before he could fully turn around and fight for the extra yard needed for a first down.
“I saw his foot stepped out,” Noce said, “and my eyes got big.”
Noce ran off of the field yelling. The celebration continued into the postgame with the home team doing their traditional “Aggie jacks” celebration facing the Bulldogs.
It was a slight not unlike what Arbor View experienced before the game. The only difference was, Arbor View waited until vanquishing Centennial and leaving it with no path to recourse.
“It’s a rivalry game,” Barnson said. “Some of these things happen, no hard feelings.”