It took two big plays in the fourth quarter — an 86-yard kickoff return by David Brookhart and a 50-yard run by Nick Crabill — but Glenelg managed to win on homecoming, defeating Centennial, 30-24, Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles briefly took a 9-6 lead in the second quarter when quarterback Tyler Morris — in his first game back after missing five games with an injury — connected with Chase Conley for a 31-yard touchdown. But Glenelg closed out the first half with 11 unanswered points, on a Mark Darden six-yard quarterback keeper, and a 35-yard field goal by Luke Brister, who also passed to Jacob Liebno for a two-point conversion following Darden's touchdown run.
After a scoreless third quarter, the fourth quarter began with the Eagles still trailing, 17-9. But it didn't take them long to close the gap.
On the first play of the final twelve minutes, Morris found Conley again, this time for a 27-yard score, and then Walter Fletcher (12 carries, 61 yards) pushed the ball up the middle for the game-tying two-point conversion.
But Centennial's celebration was short lived, because on the ensuing kickoff, Glenelg junior David Brookhart collected the ball just inside his own 15-yard line, scurried up the middle of the field and found a seam, flying up the home sideline for an 86-yard touchdown.
It was a play that could have taken the wind out of the Eagles' sails, but that was not the case.
Centennial responded with a 12-play, 70-yard drive, highlighted by an 11-yard run by Fletcher, a 19-yard reception by Conley and a 16-yard catch by Henry Heck, and capped by a 18-yard touchdown pass from Morris to Conley, their third scoring connection of the game.
Conley finished with a monster game, catching nine passes for 148 yards and three touchdowns. And in his first game back from the five-game layoff, Morris completed 16 passes for 296 yards.
Freshman kicker Nicholas Cooper, who also kicked a 25-yard field goal in the first quarter, booted home the extra point to tie the game, 24-24, to tie the game with five minutes left.
But just a little more than two minutes later, Glenelg again countered, this time with Crabill's 52-yard touchdown gallop.
Centennial still had almost three minutes to even the score, and after a big play on fourth and seven from their own 30, the Eagles appeared to be well on their way.
On the play, Morris was flushed out of the pocket by Glenelg's intense pass rush, rolled out, slipped out of one arm tackle, and heaved a spiraling rainbow pass downfield. There waiting, 6-1 Ryan Swentzel outleapt a Glenelg defensive back and pulled in the pass for a 48-yard completion to the Glenelg 22-yard line.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they would never get inside the Gladiators red zone, with the game ending on an incomplete pass on fourth-and-16, followed by Darden kneeling out the final seconds.
But Centennial coach Todd Kriner was proud of his team's effort.
"I said 'Hey, don't hang your heads, I'm proud of your effort, feel good about what you did. It was a hardfought game and they know we were here'," he said.
Fletcher and Austin Kraisser led the Eagles defense with seven tackles each.
Centennial (3-6) closes out its season next Friday against Long Reach (2-7), while Glenelg (6-3) visits Atholton (8-1).
C (3-6) 3 6 0 15 - 24
G (6-3) 6 11 0 13 - 30
G: Salandra 15 pass from Darden (kick failed). [6-0]
C: Cooper 25 field goal. [6-3]
C: Conley 31 pass from Morris (kick failed). [6-9]
G: Darden 6 run (Liebno pass from Brister). [14-9]
G: Brister 35 field goal. [17-9]
C: Conley 27 pass from Morris (Fletcher run). [17-17]
G: Brookhart 86 kick return (Brister kick). [24-17]
C: Conley 17 pass from Morris (Cooper kick). [24-24]
G: Crabill 52 run (kick failed). [30-24]