Not often after a game does an imposing athlete admit he is physically hurting all over with such a gleeful grin on his face.
However, Centennial senior running back Rob Hauff did just that after leading the Eagles (5-1, 2-1) to a 22-13 victory over visiting Hammond (3-3, 1-2) yesterday.
Hauff's 243 rushing yards on 34 carries gave him 1,074 yards (on 141 carries) for the season, and his three rushing touchdowns increased his area-leading total to 19.
"Robbie's a machine," said Eagles coach Ed Holshue. "He doesn't get tired and I don't see him wearing down as the season goes on because he practices hard. He always runs 10 yards past the last defensive scout player in our practices."
Trailing 7-0 at halftime, Centennial quarterback Brian Dowell (four of 14 for 45 yards) handed off to Hauff, who carried 22 times for 179 yards and three touchdowns in the final two quarters.
Hauff also ran in a pair of two-point conversions to account for all of the Eagles' points.
"After halftime we came out and played with controlled intensity. We wanted to dictate to Hammond's defense what goes on," said Hauff, who gained much of his yardage behind 6-foot, 290-pound senior lineman John O'Connor.
Holshue said, "Hammond did some things in the first half with our offensive tackle hole that gave us a little bit of a problem, but we went to our two-tight end set in the second half and finally scored."
Hammond opened the game with a 16-play, 73-yard scoring drive. Golden Bears junior quarterback Tim Spruill (11-for-30, 95 yards) connected with wide receiver Mike Greening for a 4-yard touchdown.
"Spruill is just something else out there on the field and we wanted to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible," said Holshue. "We wanted him to pass, because at this stage he is more dangerous as a runner in the open field."
Centennial's only offensive threat in the first half came on its first drive, as Hauff carried seven times for 34 yards.
But on first-and-10 at the Hammond 16, Golden Bears sophomore linebacker William Oliver blindsided Dowell as he dropped back to pass, jarring the ball loose. Hammond junior lineman James Rumann recovered the ball at the 25. It was Centennial's only turnover.
"I told my team 'no turnovers and we win this game,' " said Holshue, whose Eagles had four in last week's 35-7 loss to seventh-ranked Howard.
Hauff's first touchdown, with 4:15 left in the third quarter, set up by his 55-yard run to the Hammond 26, brought Centennial to within 7-6. The point-after attempt was blocked.
After Centennial's defense held Hammond to three plays and out, Dowell engineered a 10-play touchdown drive, capped by Hauff's 11-yard scoring run. Hauff ran in the two-point conversion to extend the Eagles' lead to 14-7.
Hammond's offense struck back as sophomore Josh Zillmer (six carries, 64 yards) ran 43 yards for a touchdown with 9:36 left. A sneak two-point conversion pass failed, leaving the Bears down, 14-13.
Hammond forced a quick Centennial punt, but Spruill was intercepted by Dominic Dinisio, who returned the ball to Hammond's 30.
Four plays later, Hauff finished off Hammond with an 11-yard touchdown run.