It might not have been a work of art, but the young, rebuilding Central Eagles gladly will accept Thursday's 28-15 victory against Keenan at Bolden Stadium in the Region 4-2A opener for both teams.
It was the 17th concecutive region win for the Eagles, who are the defending Class 2A Upper State champions.
"We've really been inconsistent on offense because we are so young and inexperienced, but the defense made a lot of plays that helped us get out of here with a win," said Central coach Joey Mangum, whose team improved to 4-2 and snapped a two-game losing streak.
"Keenan's a darn good football team. Winning 2-0 would have been good enough for me."
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Central took advantage of six defensive takeaways - recovering four Raiders fumbles and picking off two Antonio Perry passes.
Fumble recoveries by Mark Hatten set up two second-quarter touchdowns and a 14-0 Central lead at the break. Kegan Funderburk had a 24-yard fumble return for a touchdown to expand the Central lead to 22-0 on the second play of the second half. It proved to be the game-winning score.
The other major miscue cost the Raiders a touchdown. Central recovered a fumble in the end zone after De'ja Blakeney stripped the ball away from Keenan receiver Dennis Rowe at the end of a 47-yard catch and run to the Eagles 1-yard line with 30 seconds remaining in the first half.
"There were a lot of key plays, but that might have been the biggest," said Mangum.
The Raiders got in gear in the third quarter. Quarterback Antonio Perry was 6-for-10 for 83 yards while directing two scoring drives to cut the Central lead to 22-15. Phillip George hauled in a 28-yard scoring pass from Perry and scored on a 1-yard run on the last play of the third quarter.
The Eagles, however, opened the fourth quarter with an 11-play, 73-yard scoring drive that took 5:46 off the clock. Radford Robinson's 3-yard run capped the move at the 6:14 mark of the final frame.
"We had our chances, but we left too many points on the field," said Keenan coach Mitch Moton, whose team fell to 4-2.
"I'm proud of the way the guys hung in when we got down by 22 points, but we just had too many turnovers, too many dropped passes, too many blown assignments. It was real frustrating because our defense played well and gave us a chance to win."
Central 0 14 8 6-28
Keenan 0 0 15 0-15
C - Kegan Funderburk 14 pass from Jowan Henderson (Michael Nivens pass from Henderson), 5:19
C - Radford Robinson 1 run (pass failed), 4:58
C - Funderburk 24 fumble return (Robinson run), 11:09
K - Phillip George 28 pass from Antonio Perry (George pass from Perry), 6:09
K - George 1 run (William Moore kick), 0:00
C - Robinson 3 run (pass failed), 6:14
First downs 13 16
Rushing 39-146 17-42
Passing yards 51 225
Att-Com-Int 6-3-2 35-16-2
Fumbles-lost 2-1 5-4
Penalties 6-77 5-30
Punts 3-118 0-0
Rushing - C, Robinson 15-69, Smith 13-75. K, George 11-45, Perry 5-3.
Passing - C, Henderson 3-6-2-51. K, Perry 16-35-2-225.
Receiving - C, Smith 1-14, Funderburk 1-14, Jiwan Funderburk 1-23. K, Jasper 6-75, George 4-63, Taylor 3-17.