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High School Football Rewind: How Ankeny Centennial rallied to knock off Sioux City East

Des Moines Register 9/28/2022 Cody Goodwin, Des Moines Register
Ankeny Centennial running back Elijah Porter (8) has rushed for 571 yards through five weeks this season, the sixth-most in Class 5A. © Lee Navin/For the Register Ankeny Centennial running back Elijah Porter (8) has rushed for 571 yards through five weeks this season, the sixth-most in Class 5A.

Class 5A has one less undefeated team this week after Ankeny Centennial rallied not once, not twice, but from three different deficits to knock off Sioux City East, 31-28, in a thrilling contest Friday at Ankeny Stadium.

The Jaguars have now won three in a row, are 3-2 overall and are ranked No. 8 in our latest 5A poll. They play No. 6 Urbandale (4-1) this week. East drops to 4-1 overall and slid to No. 9, and will return to the metro to play Waukee Northwest (2-3) this Friday.

In a game that featured two ties in the second half and three total lead changes, the Jaguars leaned on a mean second-half rushing attack, behind junior running back Elijah Porter, to overcome early mistakes and emerge victorious.

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With the help of folks at Central Iowa Sports Network, who streamed the game live and archived the webcast on YouTube, we re-watched the game to see how East managed an early 13-0 lead and how Centennial ultimately rallied to win.

Here are some takeaways from the action:

Aggressive Raiders took advantage of Centennial’s early mistakes

Two things stick out about how East raced out to a 13-0 lead.

First, the Raiders played aggressively.

Their initial drive went 80 yards in eight plays, and East threw on six of those plays. The first play of the game was a 37-yard pass play to Kelynn Jacobsen on a wheel route. East also went for it on a fourth-and-12 from Centennial’s 18-yard line, a touchdown pass to Jacobsen. East finished 3-for-8 on fourth-down attempts.

Second, Centennial made a handful of mistakes.

They were tagged for two penalties on East’s opening drive, and on the ensuing kickoff, the Jaguars fumbled the kickoff return and East recovered. Two plays later, the Raiders scored again and led 13-0. The Jags ultimately committed three turnovers.

When Centennial finally had a possession in the first quarter, they reached midfield (after converting a fourth-down). They false-started on a 3rd-and-5, making it 3rd-and-10. East’s Blake Hogancamp then sacked Centennial quarterback Trenton Smith, forcing a punt.

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Raider passing attack was lethal on screens

East quarterback Cole Ritchie finished 14-of-33 for 274 yards and three touchdowns plus a late interception against the Jaguars, but much of his success last Friday came on screen plays.

Ritchie went 4-of-8 for 103 yards and two touchdowns on screen passes against Centennial. Three of the four completions spanned 29 yards or more. The Jaguar defense, through pressure or coverage, blew up the other four attempts.

The first two screen passes went nowhere, but the third came after East recovered the fumble on the kickoff. Ritchie stepped left, then hit Brady Wavrunek. He shed three would-be tacklers and gained 37 yards. The Raiders scored on the next play.

Centennial blew up the fourth screen pass and the Raiders didn’t try another until the third quarter. After Wavrunek returned a punt to Centennial’s 29-yard line, Ritchie hit Brecken Schossow on a screen, and he followed his blockers 29 yards untouched for a touchdown, giving East a 21-14 lead.

Early in the fourth, East dialed up another screen to Schossow, who took this one 34 yards for a touchdown, snaking through the defense and shedding three more would-be tacklers to make it 28-21, East, with 10:55 left to play.

East only ran 10 plays the rest of the game after that. In their limited opportunities, they attempted two more screen passes, but they yielded nothing.

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Elijah Porter leads Centennial’s rushing attack

Once Centennial settled down, junior running back Elijah Porter became the focal point of the Jaguars' offense. He finished with 175 rushing yards on 25 carries, plus three catches for 49 yards, and three total touchdowns.

The Jaguars finished with 405 total yards of offense, and Porter was responsible for 224 on his own, or roughly 55% of the team's production. He jump-started the offense late in the first quarter after the Jaguars took advantage of an early mistake by East.

On 4th-and-7 from their own 26-yard line, the Raiders fumbled the snap while attempting to punt and Centennial’s coverage team pounced. After another false start (Jags finished with nine penalties, costing them 70 yards), Porter took a screen pass 31 yards for a touchdown, making it 13-7, East, with 2:29 left in the first quarter.

Much of Porter’s production — and by extension, Centennial’s offensive success — came after that opening quarter. He rushed for just 23 yards in the first but racked up 152 the rest of the way, punctuated by a 45-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 28.

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Porter was not only central in Centennial’s come-from-behind win last Friday, but he has quickly emerged as one of 5A’s top rushers. His nine rushing touchdowns are the third-most in 5A, and his 571 total rushing yards are sixth-most in Iowa’s large class.

Even more, much of Porter’s season-long production has come in the last five weeks: 107 total yards and 3 touchdowns in a 31-6 win over Waukee; 208 total yards and 3 more touchdowns in a 28-14 win over Cedar Falls; and now this performance against East. Through the first two weeks, he had 188 yards, total, and just one touchdown.

As Porter goes, so does Centennial’s offense — and he’s gone big the last three weeks. The result for the Jaguars has been three consecutive wins.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: High School Football Rewind: How Ankeny Centennial rallied to knock off Sioux City East

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