For the second straight year, the Cordova Wolves and the Central Warriors met in the first round of the 6A state championship.
And for the second straight year, the Warriors got the win, a 21-20 thriller.
Central used a strong ground attack to control the game in the first half. On one drive, the Warriors had a 20-plus yard drive that ate nearly seven minutes off of the clock. However, Central was unable to capitalize on it after senior QB Sylvester Donerson threw an interception in the end zone.
Junior RB Dylan Ingram did get the Warriors on the scoreboard first with a 13 yard run, after the Warriors’ defense forced a fumble on the second play of the game. Ingram finished with 101 rushing yards. As a team, the Warriors tallied 255 rushing yards. The defenses for both teams held firm for the rest of the half and the Central took a 7-0 lead into halftime.
Cordova finally scored when senior QB Justin Lynn found Deon Hammer for a 36-yard touchdown to tie the score at 7-7. Later, a four-yard run by Vernon Davis gave the Wolves a 14-7 lead to end the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Ingram powered his way into the endzone for a 28-yard TD run for Central. Head Coach Major Wright made a gutsy call and went to Ingram again to convert the two-point play. The Warriors took a 15-14 lead with less than seven minutes to play.
Cordova rotated senior QBs Lynn and Austin Wiley throughout the game. The Wolves took possession after falling behind used a four-play drive to regain the lead, but the the extra point was no good and the Wolves took a 20-15 lead. Central answered with 83-yard touchdown drive of their own.to take a 21-20 lead.
A late game Hail Mary pass came up short for Cordova, and Central came out with the win.
“I thought we did not want to put it in the hands of our kicker. We had a better chance on the ground,” Wright said of the crucial decision to go for the two-point conversion. “I am pleased in what we have accomplished. I am happy for them. “
For Cordova, Wiley finished the game with 137 yards passing and one touchdown. Lynn finished the game with 101 passing yards and one touchdown.
“It was a hard fought game,” said Cordova Head Coach Marcus Wimberley. “We left nearly 21 points on the field. We made way too many mistakes, but we could not keep them out of the end zone when we needed to. We have got to be a much more disciplined team.”
Wright said his team relied on Ingram’s running game for the win.
“We leaned on him on that last drive,” Wright said. “It wasn’t his series, but he is too hard to get on the ground, so we went with him. He is just a workhorse.”
Cordova players took the loss very hard. In an act of sportsmanship, several Warriors players consoled some of the Wolves after the game by giving them positive encouragement.
“We were looking forward to making a good run,” Wimberley said. “A lot of teams don’t want to play us, because we have some offensive fire power. It all comes down to defense. You can’t go very far if you don’t have a good defense.”
The Warriors will nest play the Germantown Red Devils on Friday, November 9, at 7 pm. This will be the second meeting for the teams this season. Germantown won the first meeting a few weeks ago 29-7. The winner plays the winner of the Whitehaven-Houston game (also on Nov. 9). If Germantown wins they will host the game, if Central wins either Whitehaven or Houston will host the game.