No sleep, no problem for Centre College.
Travel troubles left the Colonels with little time to rest before their game Saturday in Sherman, Texas, but they were plenty sharp enough to defeat Austin 17-0 at Jerry Apple Stadium.
The Colonels allowed only 160 yards, a season-low total for both the Centre defense and the Austin offense, as they won their third straight game.
“Our defense played very well. One thing I’ve been really proud to see is our kids mature defensively,” Centre coach Andy Frye said. “We’re a better defense than we were five games ago, four games ago, even three games ago. Really, our whole team played better. We’re a better football team than we were three weeks ago.”
The hardest part about getting this win was simply getting to the game. The team’s Friday afternoon flight from Louisville to Dallas was grounded due to trouble with an engine, and another plane had to be brought from Dallas. That plane didn’t arrive in Louisville until well after midnight, and the flight finally departed at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, some 10 hours later than scheduled.
The team arrived in Dallas about 4 a.m., and by the time the players got to their hotel, they had only about three hours to sleep before a 7:30 a.m. wake-up call for their pregame breakfast and a 75-minute bus ride to Sherman.
“You talk about overcoming adversity, we practiced it,” Frye said. “I was really happy to see them not let that situation dictate how we were going to play.”
Centre (6-2) held Austin (2-6), which was averaging more than 200 rushing yards per game, to 56 yards on the ground, and its own offense rolled up 418 yards behind a balanced attack.
Heath Haden threw for 237 yards and a touchdown, and Monte Scotton rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown for the Colonels, who reached the end zone on two of their first four possessions.
Frye said the only disappointment was that the Colonels didn’t capitalize on more scoring chances. They came away empty on three trips to the red zone, missed two field goals and had only three points to show for four trips inside the Austin 25-yard line in the second half.
But the defense held fast. Austin made only three trips into Centre territory and got past the Colonels’ 45 only once, and Frye said the Kangaroos were forced into a number of second-and-long or third-and-long situations.
“We kept them from developing their running game. They’re scoring points against people, and we were able to keep them from staying on track,” Frye said.
It was the Colonels’ second consecutive shutout win over Austin, one of two remaining football schools in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, which Centre and six other schools left to form a new league.
Centre scored the first time it had the ball, driving 87 yards in 10 plays to score on a 2-yard run by Scotton. Haden, who was 18 for 32 overall, went 4 for 6 on the drive, getting the Colonels out of the hole with a 25-yard completion to Greyson Janeway from his own 13-yard line and converting on third-and-6 with a 13-yard throw to Brandon Kamp to the Austin 2.
The Colonels scored on an even longer drive in the second quarter, covering 92 yards in nine plays. A 47-yard run by Haden moved them into Austin territory, and he threw a 39-yard pass to Harry Meisner on third-and-22 for the touchdown.
Jordan Gay missed field goal attempts of 34 yards in the second quarter and 41 yards in the third, but he connected from 21 yards with 9 minutes, 13 seconds remaining.
Gay did his part in backing up the Austin offense, however, with three punts that averaged 47.7 yards.
The Kangaroos’ best scoring chance came late in the third quarter, when they drove from their own 24 to the Centre 19 before Paul Megilligan and Steven Sims combined to stop quarterback Noah Jesko for a 3-yard loss on third down and Rue Hockensmith stopped running back Kevin Leonard for a 5-yard loss on fourth down.
Austin was just 2 for 12 on third-down conversion attempts; Centre was 8 for 16.
Michael Bozarth led Centre’s defense with eight tackles. Sam Spees intercepted a pass from Jesko, who was 13 for 18 for 97 yards, and Hockensmith, Sims, Megilligan and Grant Poston had one sack each.
Centre has two games remaining, including its home finale this Saturday against Southern Athletic Association foe Birmingham-Southern.
“It’s nice to be 6-2,” Frye said. “We’re a better football team now. We’ve just got to keep rolling.”
At Sherman, Texas
Centre 7 7 0 3 — 17
Austin 0 0 0 0 — 0
Centre — Monte Scotton 2 run (Jordan Gay kick), 8:39.
Centre — Harry Meisner 39 pass from Heath Haden (Gay kick), 3:44.
Centre — FG Gay 21, 9:13.
First downs 22 11
Rushes-yards 43-181 33-56
Passing 237 104
Comp-Att-Int 18-32-1 14-19-1
Return Yards 52 64
Punts-Avg. 3-47.7 8-35.8
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 6-53 1-15
Time of Possession 34:44 25:16
RUSHING—Centre, Monte Scotton 21-89, Heath Haden 10-57, Matt Farrell 6-25, Harry Meisner 4-14, team 2-minus 4. Austin, Sean Sweeney 8-34, Madison Ross 4-27, Kevin Leonard 7-12, Devin Smith 4-11, James Nwankpah 1-4, Bryce Murphy 1-1, Broc Boyd 1-minus 4, Noah Jesko 7-minus 29.
PASSING—Centre, Haden 18-32-1-237. Jesko 13-18-1-97, Austin Rainer 1-1-0-7.
RECEIVING—Centre, Jason Osterman 7-103, Greyson Janeway 4-32, Austin Jones 2-33, Meisner 1-39, Brandon Kamp 1-13, Andrew Tuller 1-11, Bryan Carroll 1-9, Scotton 1-minus 3. Austin, Ross 5-49, P.J. Fuller 3-18, Sweeney 3-15, Travis McClinton 1-11, Madison Parkhill 1-7, Quentin Casner 1-4.