Capitalizing on homecoming spirit and Centennial miscues, host Atholton (2-3) --ed the Eagles' hopes with a 10-0 victory yesterday.
"The game's difference was who made the most mistakes and our defense hanging tough," Atholton head coach Don Van Deusen said, referring to the game's four critical turnovers and numerous drive-killing penalties.
Centennial, which has not advanced to the state football playoffs since 1980, dropped to 3-2 with five difficult games remaining.
Clinging to a 3-0 lead after three quarters, Atholton received a touchdown-saving play from junior defensive back Sam Corden to start the fourth quarter.
Centennial backup quarterback Brian Dowell (two of six for 28 yards) threw a perfect spiral to Eagles senior split end Simon Simmer, who had a step on Corden. But the 5-foot-10 Raiders cornerback tipped the
pass away at the last second to prevent a long scoring play.
A series later, Atholton made the most of the game's biggest break when miscommunication between Centennial senior punt returners Bill Chedester and Nathan Hunt resulted in a fumble that was recovered by Atholton's Jason McCallum at the Centennial 15.
Three plays later, Atholton backup quarterback Ryan McQueeney scored from the 2-yard line on a quarterback keeper for a 10-0 Raiders lead with 6:36 remaining in the game.
"That fumbled punt kind of killed our instincts," said Centennial's 5-foot-7, 145-pound senior running back, Jeremy Odelius, who entered the game with 329 rushing yards (4.8 average) but was limited to 10 yards on nine carries in the first half.
Atholton's defense switched from a basic four-lineman set to five down linemen stuffing the line of scrimmage and three linebackers shadowing Odelius (13 carries, 55 yards).
Except for a pair of 22-yard runs in the second half by the Eagles' top back, the Raiders' defense did not allow Odelius any daylight. Senior linebacker Kevin Nickey had eight tackles.
Centennial's offense, averaging 15 points in its first four games, moved just once inside Atholton's 15-yard line.
The Eagles mounted a two-minute drive near the end of the first half, with senior quarterback Lawrence Holmes (four of 16, 72 yards) connecting on two passes with Hunt with 34 total yards.
A 23-yard pass play from Holmes to Odelius gave Centennial the ball at the 4-yard line, but Atholton's goal-line defense held.
With Centennial having no timeouts, Raiders junior defensive end Shane Beaver brought down Holmes, with help from Nickey, at the 1-yard line as time expired in the half.