Running back Justin Manuatu rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Jake McClurg scored the clincher as Keller Central clinched a playoff berth by defeating Haltom 24-15 Friday night at Birdville Stadium.
With under 3 minutes to play, McClurg’s 7-yard touchdown run provided the final margin.
Keller Central (5-4, 4-2 in District 4-5A) needed late defense to seal the victory against Haltom (3-6, 1-5), which was led by quarterback Jonathon Armstrong and running back Clifton Hardin. They combined for 154 yards rushing and a 38-yard scoring pass.
Taylor Robinson starting the scoring for Keller Central on a 13-yard run mere minutes into the game. Two minutes into the second quarter, Manuatu’s 52-yard touchdown run gave the Chargers a 14-0 lead.
After Armstrong’s touchdown pass with 2 minutes left in the first half, Keller Central responded with Hunter Morrow’s 37-yard field goal to give Central a 17-6 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Haltom’s Salvador Suarez made it 17-9 with a 37-yard field goal of his own.
Armstrong’s 3-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter made it 17-15, but the 2-point conversion failed.
After a goal-line stand stopped Central, the Buffalos failed on a fake punt attempt with under 6 minutes to play and later didn’t capitalize on a fumble recovery.
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