Hogan Prep shut down Center’s offense and powered through the Yellow Jackets defense at times Friday night.
But the Rams were forced to hold on until the final whistle before taking a 22-15 victory at Center.
Hogan Prep senior running back Ke’Waun Riley ran around, through and over Center’s defense for 180 yards in 25 carries, but his second fumble as the Rams moved inside the 20 with 1 minute, 3 seconds left gave the Yellow Jackets hope.
Quarterback Raheem Muhammad moved Center frantically down the field, first with his second completion of the game and then a series of scrambles that covered 35 yards while leaving him hobbling.
Those plays and a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty had the Yellow Jackets inside the Hogan 25 with 6 seconds left.
Forced to scramble again, Muhammad lost control of the ball as the clock expired, ending a comeback try that wouldn’t have matched the statistics.
Hogan Prep, 3-0, had taken a 22-8 lead midway through the third quarter and seemed likely to roll before Center’s 6-play, 74-yard drive in which the Yellow Jackets got their first first down of the game. Gage King’s 4-yard touchdown run made it 22-15 with 3:41 left in the third quarter.
Despite going without a first down and gaining just 34 yards of offense in the first half, Center took an 8-6 lead with 1:04 left in the half thanks to a series of plays bookended by Center senior Tony Caldwell.
Caldwell’s 57-yard quick punt stopped at the Hogan Prep 3-yard-line, pinning the Rams against their own goal line.
Hogan Prep managed to reach its 10 before Edward Collins’ punt was stuffed by three Center rushers, giving the Yellow Jackets possession at the 4.
Caldwell scored two plays later from 2 yards out, then ran in the two-point conversion attempt after three penalties moved the extra point three times and negated two point-after attempts.
“We didn’t do very much there (in the first half),” said Center coach Bryan DeLong, whose team is 1-2. “We were lucky to be in it, really.”
Chriselle Lang’s 30-yard run and Riley’s conversion run gave the Rams a 14-8 lead with 7:27 left in the third.
Then one play after a Center fumble on the next drive, Hogan Prep quarterback Isaih Baylis ran in a 14-yard keeper with 5:46 left and Riley added the two-point conversion.
Baylis’ connected with Kareem Sanders on an 8-yard touchdown late in the first quarter, putting the Rams ahead 6-0.