Central Holmes football coach Mitch Womack said going into Friday’s 3A state championship game that his team would have to play a perfect game to beat Canton Academy.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, it not a perfect game.
The Panthers used a big-play offense and scored 39 unanswered points to take a 47-14 win over the Trojans to capture the Class 3A state championship on Friday at Jackson Academy.
Central Holmes finishes the season with a 6-7 record.
“First off, I’m proud of our kids and how they played all year and what they have accomplished this year,” Womack said. “Like I told them after the game, there is nobody in the state who thought that Central Holmes would be in the state championship game. And this one game doesn’t define how our season went and how they played. When I look back at the game, the only thing I can come up with is we were mentally and physically worn out. I thought our kids played hard but we didn’t play our brand of football like we did last week.”
Canton got the ball to start the game but the drive came to end when Lamarion Buchanan recovered a fumble. But Central Holmes failed to capitalize was forced to punt.
Canton then went 38 yards in four plays and scored on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 5:05 left in the first quarter. The two-point conversion was good and Canton led 8-0.
Central Holmes put together one of its best drives of the game and went seven plays before fumbling at the Canton 15 with 2:09 left sin the first quarter. After a Canton loss, the Panthers ripped off a 97-yard run. The try for two was good and Canton led 16-0.
“I thought the long run when it was 8-0 really hurt us,” Womack said. “I thought that play kind of turned things around. But the whole game didn’t feel right emotion wise. I honestly think our state championship was last week against Greenville Christian. It’s just hard to repeat that kind of emotion and performance from one week to the next.”
After a Central Holmes punt, the Trojans got an interception from Buchanan to give them the ball at the Canton 48. Eight plays later, John Ward scored on an 8-yard run with 7:02 left in the half. Dan Lindsey hit the PAT and Canton held a 16-7 lead.
From there, Canton started to pour on the points as they scored three unanswered touchdowns. The first as a 51-yard touchdown pass with 5:38 left in the half to go up 24-7. The second was a 42-yard touchdown pass with 2:34 left in the half to go up 32-7. The third was a 61-yard punt return with 29 seconds left in the half to give the Panthers a 40-7 halftime lead.
“Once they got it going, they were hard to slow down,” Womack said. “They played with a ton of passion and a lot of fire and are hard to stop that. We tried to get things going and everything seemed to go right for them and wrong for us. It happens and you hate it when it happens. I’m not taking anything away from Canton because they are really good. But we didn’t play our kind of football. It was a hard-fought game and Canton has a great team and you have to tip your hat to them.”
Central Holmes got the ball to start the second half and turned the ball over on downs. Canton then ripped off a 60-yard run with 6:48 left in the third to take a 47-7 lead and begin a running clock.
Aiden Adcock set up Central Holmes last score with an interception. The Trojans then scored on a 9-yard run by Buchanan with 10:13 left in the game. Lindsey’s PAT was good and Canton led 47-14.