On the Road Again: Celina smashes Perryton, 59-0, in Oklahoma Showdown
By Townsend Keller, Special to the Record
YUKON, OK--It was the second week in a row that Celina hit the highway for a non-district showdown, this week crossing state lines to Oklahoma to take on Perryton (2-3).
The 200-mile drive was a worthwhile one, with the Bobcats (4-1) dispatching of the Rangers (2-3), 59-0.
In the first quarter, however, it seemed Celina would have difficulty scoring at all. After the Bobcats recovered an onside kick to open the game, sophomore quarterback Nathan Elliott threw an interception on the third play of the opening drive. On their next offensive series, junior halfback Connor Torbert fumbled and Perryton recovered. The third Celina offensive series ended with Elliott fumbling the ball in the end zone after a 17-yard scramble.
"We started out slow," said Bill Elliott, Celina head coach. "First quarter was rough, had a lot of mistakes. It was a test for our young team and they finally got their feet on the ground, they got things going in the right direction and picked it up there pretty good the last three quarters."
And pick it up they did.
The Bobcat defense stopped Perryton from scoring on a four-play goal line stand while also forcing a fumble on a later drive.
"I just like to think of it as we're going to fight as hard as we can and if they don't score, they can't win," said Josh Raulerson, senior linebacker. "And if we just keep them out of the end zone, and we're doing our part and we believe our offense will do theirs in the long run."
After the Celina defense ensured that the game would remain 0-0 going into the second quarter, senior wide receiver Ben Thiel returned a Ranger punt 32 yards to set his offense up nicely at the Perryton 22-yard line.
That was the jumpstart Celina needed, as Torbert scored from the 1-yard line for the first points of the night. Elliott and the offense struck again on their next opportunity, capping off a 51-yard drive with the Celina quarterback connecting with sophomore halfback Cash Conder on an 18-yard strike to put Celina ahead, 14-0.
An interception by senior defensive back Dalton Hamilton on Perryton's Garrett Sunday set up a 37-yard field goal from senior offensive lineman Aaron Reedy as Celina looked to take a 17-0 lead into the halftime break.
But Perryton couldn't get out of its own way, as the Rangers fumbled the following kickoff at their own 23-yard line that Celina recovered. It took Elliott only one play to score, a 23-yard dash to put his team up, 24-0, going into the locker room.
"It's just a long trip, they're on that bus and it's so much different routine than they're used to," coach Elliott said. "I think it kind of got them off to a slow start. We were kind of flat from the get-go, and then they got aggravated, woke up and started playing that second quarter."
The third quarter wouldn't provide any relief for the Rangers, as Celina's scoring only snowballed. The first drive of the second half, sophomore halfback Nick Grant sped 23 yards to make the score 31-0 and Elliott tacked on seven more on the Bobcats' following drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Thiel.
Grant sealed the deal with an 11-yard score on the Bobcats' next offensive drive, but perhaps at a cost as Elliott had to be helped from the field a few plays earlier after sustaining an ankle injury after a 6-yard rush.
"It's a sprain, that's all we know right now," coach Elliott said. "We'll get it looked at tomorrow and check it out. He said it's feeling better so hopefully it's not too bad."
With senior Kyle Sudberry replacing Elliott at quarterback, Celina fell back on its backfield depth with rushing touchdowns added by senior halfback Willie Sims (23 yards) and junior fullback Jake Miller (1) to finalize the shutout -- the Bobcats' first of the season.
"We just came out and got after them," Raulerson said. "They had a couple big plays but we didn't get hung up on it. We just kept after them."
Elliott completed 11-of-17 pass attempts for 110 yards, two touchdowns and an interception while also contributing a rushing touchdown and losing a fumble. Grant led the ground game for Celina with five attempts for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Conder led Celina in receiving with three catches for 48 yards and a touchdown.
For Perryton, Sunday finished 11-of-24 for 171 yards with an interception. Juan Jiminez was the most productive offensive player with two catches for 62 yards.
Celina returns home next Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against Dallas Roosevelt.