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November 24, 2014

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Defense comes up strong in Centennial’s win

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Richard Brian

A Centennial player grabs the face mask of Green Valley’s Kyle Larimer during a game at Green Valley on Friday night.

Tough 'Til the End

Centennial and Green Valley battled it out in a week two showdown that came down to the fourth quarter. Find coverage of the game here or view photos here.

Centennial at Green Valley

Green Valley wide receiver Derrick Stevens runs for a touchdown during a home game against Centennial on Friday night. Launch slideshow »

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Centennial's defense did it again.

A week after forcing six turnovers to key a convincing season-opening victory, the Bulldogs held host Green Valley High to 239 yards of offense in a 24-20 victory Friday night.

Nick Libonati, the Gators' usually effective quarterback, completed 13 of 24 for 132 yards with two touchdowns. Four of the completions, however, went for negative yards as he was unable to lead a comeback.

The stingy defense has become Centennial's strength. It's a strength coach George Baker hopes to continue next week against Silverado, one of Southern Nevada's top teams.

While the Bulldogs are still two weeks away from Northwest Division play, when victories and setbacks count toward making the playoffs, Baker said he feels his team is headed in the right direction.

"These games count toward our momentum," Baker said. "Last year we were 3-0 going into league play and we got smashed in the mouth four times in a row by the top teams in our division. We need to go into league play with momentum."

Centennial never trailed as Colton Price kicked a 20-yard field goal on the Bulldogs' first drive. Scott Hamilton gave them a 10-0 lead when he scored on a 2-yard run on the last play of the first half. Matt Holley set up the score with an impressive grab on a 30-yard reception the previous play.

"We were getting pretty tired and we really needed some momentum," Holly said. "That boosted our confidence a lot, getting a score before halftime. All those Northwest Division teams just run up the middle and outside. They don't use the pass like we do."

Green Valley wasted no time mounting a comeback as Derrick Stevens returned the opening kickoff of the second half 92 yards for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 10-7.

Centennial running back Brandon Wright, who led the Bulldogs with 51 yards on 16 carries, added two fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Bulldogs built a comfortable advantage.

Libonati connected with Jordan Miller on a pair of touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to keep the game close. They hooked up for a 42-yard touchdown midway through the quarter, and a 36-yard score with nine seconds to play.

"Our kids battled back in the second half but it was not enough," Green Valley coach Matt Gerber said. "We have come out flat two games in a row and we need to find a way to remedy that."

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