High School Football

Burleson Centennial rallies back, stops Cleburne’s two-point try in overtime thriller

Burleson Centennial extended its win streak in this short series to six games behind some late-game heroics from Jaylon Jackson and remained in contention for the top spot in District 5-5A Division II with a 56-55 overtime victory against Cleburne Friday night at The Rock.

Jackson, who took over at quarterback after starter Hank Meyer was carried off on a stretcher with 7:38 to play, navigated his way through the Cleburne defense for a 70-yard touchdown with four seconds left in regulation. He then ran in a two-point conversion to tie the game at 49, forcing overtime.

In overtime, the Spartans’ Zionn Ababio scored from five yards out, his second TD of the game (he earlier had a 39-yard TD run). Then, after Cleburne quarterback Gunner Hammond threw a 3-yard scoring pass to Ethan Steck on fourth-and-goal, the Yellow Jackets tried running for two points and were stopped short.

With the victory, Centennial improved to 4-1 in league play and 6-1 overall, a game behind Aledo and in sole possession of second place.

The Spartans are chasing a sixth consecutive postseason berth. Cleburne (4-2, 2-2) lost for a second straight week, but is still in the running for its first playoff appearance since 2016.

The loss spoiled a seven-touchdown night for Hammond. He rushed for 83 yards and four touchdowns of 5, 18, 6 and 1 yards, along with passing for 333 yards and three touchdowns, including an 8-yarder to Gavin Naquin for a 49-41 lead with 3:33 to play. He also had a 58-yard TD pass to Isaak Cunningham to give Cleburne an early 7-0 lead.

Jaxon Bigham recovered a Centennial fumble, the fourth of the night for the Spartans, with 2:03 left.

Cleburne appeared to have the game in hand.

But Jackson wasn’t finished. Having returned a kickoff 85 yards in the first quarter for a touchdown and catching a 59-yard TD pass from Meyer earlier, he saved his best for last. On second-and-10 from his own 30 and the clock running out, he found a seam in the Cleburne defense and weaved his way through to the end zone.

Cleburne led 21-6 after the first quarter before Centennial went up 27-21 at the half and 35-28 after three quarters.

After Cleburne tied the game at 35 on a 2-yard run by Cleo Chandler, Centennial regained the lead with its second kickoff return for a TD. Kendall Earhart ran one back 69 yards, but the extra point missed, leaving the Spartans ahead 41-35 with 10:38 remaining.

Meyer also scored on a 1-yard run and Jeff Kirven had a 25-yard TD dash for the Spartans, who overcame an early two-touchdown deficit. The Spartans registered four sacks, two by lineman Darryn Kindles. Also, Joseph Session had an interception.

The Yellow Jackets converted 10 of 14 third-down attempts and were also 2-for-2 on fourth down.

Centennial was 4-for-8 on third down and 1-for-1 on fourth.

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