Centre football shuts out Sewanee; BSU next

Published 11:47 am Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Centre football has won five straight games.

The Colonels shut out Sewanee 47-0 on Saturday to improve to 8-1 (6-1 SAA) this season.

It was the Centre defense that came out strong from the start, blocking a kick and returning it for a touchdown for the first Colonels’ TD of the game. Centre’s defense gave up just 163 total yards of offense and had a season-high four takeaways.

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“I was pleased to see us play well, especially at the end,” Centre head coach Andy Frye said. “In the first half, I feel like both teams were playing kind of sloppy. By the middle of the second quarter, I felt like we had finally gathered and started playing the way that we have the ability to play. We had a really nice two-minute drive on offense, took it down for a score.”

Centre’s offense was slow out of the gate, scoring its first touchdown in the middle of the second quarter.

But from there, it was all Colonels.

Centre added another touchdown with five seconds left in the first half after driving 80 yards in just 73 seconds. At halftime, the Colonels led 23-0.

“In the second half, I feel like we played more objectively like the way we practiced,” Frye said. “It was a good thing for us to have, I was pleased to see that.”

Devin Hayes finished the day 22-for-31 with 290 yards and four touchdowns to three different receivers. Jordan Gunter caught two touchdowns and Jaylon HIbbs had five catches for 93 yards and a score.

On the ground, Colin Burnam led the Colonels with 16 rushes for 94 yards. Tyler Hoffman added eight carries for 57 yards.

Defensively, Centre kept Sewanee out of scoring range for a majority of the game. Shane Smith had seven tackles, a sack and forced fumble and Tommy Kaczocha had eight tackles, a forced fumble and 1.5 tackles for loss.

“I think our gameplan worked well. I think the kids played hard,” Frye said. “That was the best part. I think our leadership showed in that, especially defensively. We made some good stops and had a goal-line stand, which is always important. You’ve got to practice those things.”

Now, Centre’s focus will turn to a familiar face. The Colonels will host Birmingham Southern (3-6, 2-5) this weekend for Senior Day.

Birmingham Southern’s head coach, Tony Joe White, was named to that position after last season. Before that, he was Centre’s offensive coordinator.

“I know how he is, I think his guys will line up. They’re very talented, they’re very fast, they’re just young,” Frye said. “I think that’s why they’re probably 3-6. But trust me, I think he’s been looking forward to this game for a long time. I think he’s going to be very well-prepared for us, as we hope to be for him …  If we give them any room, this could be a battle.”

White also has two former Colonels on his staff.

“It’ll be a homecoming for him, I’m sure,” Frye said. “It’ll be a little melancholy, as long as he spent here, I think it was eight years. It was his home for eight years, for him and his family. It’ll be exciting to have him back. We’ve got two other guys that have played for Centre that are on his staff. John Perin, his defensive coordinator, played for me and coached for me. Kristopher Beauchamp played for me and he’s coaching there as well. There’s a huge Centre connection there at Birmingham Southern.”

Frye said he was happy for his former players and staff.

“I’m pleased that he’s worked his way to this point, this is something that he’s always wanted to do,” Frye said. “Hopefully Centre football had an effect on his life and hopefully prepared him to be the best he can be there, I think will do a great job there. He’s just right now trying to get all of the pieces together.”

Saturday will be an emotional day in more than one way, though: The Colonels will celebrate 20 seniors, who might be playing in their final game.

“It’s like every year, it’s the last senior day, it’s our senior game and you always say ‘how do you replace your seniors,’ and somehow you do the next year,” Frye said. “When you see them leave, you know this could possibly be their last game. We’re hoping we can get an at-large bid, but there’s some things that will have to take place. We’re in the hunt, but we’ve got to let the chips fall where they may.

“It’s always kind of a melancholy feel too, when they know that this is it, you see them play for the last game. We’ve got a great senior class and it’s always tough to replace them. Their legacy is left and they start another one next year.”

The Colonels could receive an at-large bid for the NCAA D-III tournament, but it’s no guarantee. Berry, the top team in the SAA, clinched the conference title and automatic bid two weeks ago.

This Sunday will be “selection Sunday,” and that’s when Centre’s postseason fate will be determined.

“It should be a really good football game,” Frye said. “If we do what we should do, we’ll see what takes place come Sunday when they do the NCAA playoff selection.”