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Colonels Win Fifth Straight with 30-23 Triumph over Berry in Season Finale

Colonels Win Fifth Straight with 30-23 Triumph over Berry in Season Finale

ROME, Ga.  (CentreAthletics.com) – Trailing 16-0 late in the second quarter of a Southern Athletic Association contest on Saturday afternoon, the Centre football team outscored host Berry 30-7 for the remainder of the game to earn its fifth consecutive win by a score of 30-23.

The Colonels played the role of spoiler, ending the Vikings' conference championship and NCAA Division III postseason hopes, as Berry would have clinched its first SAA title in school history with a win over Centre on Saturday. Instead, Hendrix claimed its program's first conference championship with a win over Sewanee and will represent the SAA in the NCAA playoffs.

The Colonels close the 2015 campaign with an 8-2 overall record and a 6-2 mark in SAA action. It marks the fourth time that 18th-year head coach Andy Frye has won at least eight games in a season at the helm of the Centre program. It also represents the last game for the Colonel seniors, who won their 31st game as a class on Saturday.

Berry jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the second quarter, before Centre responded with 23 unanswered points and gain its first advantage of the contest.

With just 46 seconds remaining in the second quarter, redshirt-senior quarterback Heath Haden (Kingsport, Tenn.) found senior tight end Brandon Kamp for a one-yard touchdown pass to cut the Vikings' lead to 16-6 after the Colonels' two-point conversion attempt failed.

In the third quarter, junior running back Casey Bradley (Acworth, Ga.) ran into the end zone from three yards out, minimizing the Berry advantage to 16-13 with 6:25 to play in the period.

Later in the quarter, junior kicker Alex Ward (Murray, Ky.) connected on a 29-yard field goal to knot the game at 16-16.

Haden would give the Colonels their first lead of the game at 23-17 with a one-yard touchdown run with 9:44 to play in the contest.

After Centre held the Vikings scoreless for over 25 minutes, Berry answered with a touchdown on an Austin Lowe two-yard run on the Vikings' next drive, evening the score to 23-23 with 7:44 showing on the clock.

Later in the final quarter, Haden connected with junior running back Nolan Coulter (Knoxville, Tenn.) for a 15-yard touchdown pass on what would prove to be the game-winning score, regaining the lead at 30-23 with just 2:44 remaining in the contest.

On fourth down of Berry's next drive, senior defensive back Taylor Peoples (Hendersonville, Tenn.) intercepted Jackson's pass, preserving the Colonels' 30-23 triumph.

Haden completed a career-high 32 passes on 41 attempts for 360 yards to go along with a pair of touchdowns and an interception. His 32 completions top his previous career-high of 31 completions set in a 37-28 win over Washington & Lee on Sept. 21, 2013.

Haden closes an outstanding career at Centre with school records of 8,872 passing yards, 68 passing touchdowns and 10,623 total yards.

Saturday marked his third 300-yard passing performance of the season and sixth of his career.

Senior wide receiver Blake Martin (Lexington, Ky.) had a career day in his last game in a Colonel uniform as well, recording career-highs of 11 catches for 180 yards. It marked the first 100-yard receiving effort of his career.

Senior linebacker Conor Flaherty (Columbus, Ohio) matched a career-high with a game-high 14 tackles on Saturday, including 10 solo stops in the win.

Peoples added eight tackles to go with his interception, while senior defensive back Alex Mattingly (Louisville, Ky.) had added eight stops for the Centre defense. Freshman defensive back Rhoman James (Lexington, Ky.) had another interception for the Colonel on Saturday, giving him an SAA-leading six picks on the year.

Jacking finished 18-of-45 for 186 yards passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Vikings.

Lowe tallied 19 carries for a game-high 100 yards on the ground for Berry.

Mamadou Soumahoro had seven tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks to pace the Vikings defense.

The Colonels outgained Berry 381-317 in the win, including a 360-186 yardage advantage through the air.

Centre finishes with a single-season record of 4,991 yards, topping last season's total of 4,841 total yards in one less game. The Colonels averaged 499.1 yards per game this season.