16 Conference Titles | Two NCAA Playoff Appearances | 27 All-Americans | Four Academic All-Americans | One Rhodes Scholar | 1921 National Champions
@CentreFootball Drops Season Finale to Berry 21-19
DANVILLE, Ky. CentreColonels.com) – Seeking its second Southern Athletic Association (SAA) championship in three seasons on Saturday, the Centre football team came up just short, dropping a 21-19 decision to visiting Berry in the season finale at Farris Stadium.
With the win, the Vikings, (9-1, 7-1 SAA) claim a share of the SAA title, while the Colonels close the 2016 campaign with an 8-2 overall ledger and a 6-2 mark in SAA play.
Centre has recorded six eight-win seasons under 19th-year head coach Andy Frye, including three straight seasons with at least eight victories.
Turnovers and an aggressive Berry front seven troubled the Colonels on Saturday, as Centre committed a season-high four turnovers and tallied season-lows in total yards (354) and rushing yards (22).
Following a scoreless first quarter, the Colonels jumped ahead early in the second period when sophomore Colin Burnam's (Bowling Green, Ky.) one-yard touchdown run capped a 16-play, 95-yard drive.
Centre extended its lead to 10-0 when Ben Logsdon connected on a 23-yard field goal with 2:44 to play in the half.
The Colonels would force a three-and-out on the next Vikings march, but Berry got the ball back when Mamadou Soumahoro stripped junior quarterback Devin Hayes (Bowling, Green, Ky.), recovered the fumble and ran 10 yards before lateraling the ball to Justin Akin. All told, the Vikings returned the fumble 43 yards deep into Centre territory.
Two plays later, Berry got on the board on an Austin Lowe touchdown run with just 24 seconds showing on the clock.
The Colonels would fumble the ensuing kickoff, giving the Vikings favorable field position which set up a Slade Dale 26-yard touchdown pass to Trey Ciresi. Berry had taken a 14-10 lead in a span of 17 seconds of game action.
On the Vikings first drive of the second half, backup quarterback Tate Adcock found Tristen Cline on a 19-yard touchdown strike to put Berry on top 21-10.
Logsdon and the Colonels answered right back with another field goal, this one from 37 yards to shrink the Berry lead to 21-13 with under 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Berry would take this eight-point lead into the fourth quarter, before Burnam's second touchdown run of the day minimized the Vikings' advantage to 21-19.
Centre tried to knot the game at 21 with a two-point conversion try, but Hayes could not reach the end zone on the attempt.
The Colonels found themselves shifting the momentum in their favor with the Burnam touchdown and another three-and-out on Berry's next drive.
Following the Vikings' punt, Centre took over at its own 35-yard line before Hayes completed seven-of-nine passes to lead the Colonels to the Vikings' eight-yard line. However, a Berry interception in the end zone halted the drive and prevented Centre from regaining the lead.
The Colonels were able to force a Vikings punt on their next possession, but Centre could not capitalize, taking a pair of sacks followed by an incomplete pass and a punt of its own.
Berry would run nearly four minutes off the clock before attempting a 40-yard field goal, which went wide left to give the Colonels the ball with 32 seconds to play.
Unfortunately for Centre, the Colonels were unable to move into scoring position, as the Vikings forced four straight incompletions to seal the win.
Centre outgained Berry 354-275 in the game, including a 332-243 edge in passing yards.
Neither team had much success on the ground, as the two teams combined for just 54 rushing yards in the contest.
The Colonels tallied 25 first downs compared to the Vikings' 15.
Hayes finished 25-of-53 with 332 yards and an interception, recording his sixth 300-yard passing performance of the season. The junior set Centre's single-season passing yards record, posting 3,148 yards on the season, snapping the previous record of 3,013 yards set by Brian Behrendt in 2004.
Hayes also paced the Colonel offense which set a new single-season program record averaging 508.6 yards per game, topping last year's school record of 499.1 yards per contest. Centre has now bested this mark in four consecutive seasons.
Junior wide receiver Noah Dziedzic (Richmond, Va.) caught seven passes for 112 yards, his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season.
Logsdon caps the season a perfect 10-of-10 on field goals.
Senior defensive end Trey Yeager (Danville, Ky.) finished with a game-high nine tackles, including a pair of sacks.
Sophomore defensive back John Wilson (Brandenburg, Ky.) had seven tackles for the Colonels, while senior linebacker Anthony Kersey (Winchester, Ky.) recorded six tackles, including 1.5 sacks for Centre.
Freshman cornerback Cal Lewellyn (Louisville, Ky.) had his conference-leading seventh interception of the season to go along with a game-high four pass breakups and four tackles.
Adcock completed 10-of-17 passes for Berry while Slade Dale was 7-of-14. Both quarterbacks threw for a touchdown for the Vikings.
Ciresi tallied a game-high 143 receiving yards on five catches with a touchdown for Berry.
Soumahoro had seven tackles, including game-highs of five tackles for loss and four sacks to go with a pair of forced fumbles.
Washington (Mo.), who the Colonels defeated by a score of 39-28 earlier this season, also won a share of the SAA title and earned the conference's automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Division III Playoffs with a 43-34 triumph at Chicago on Saturday.