ALLEN – For the second time this season, a football game between Anna and Celina went down to the wire.
The Coyotes got 304 passing yards and three touchdowns from senior quarterback Ethan Bullock in a 28-25 victory against the Bobcats on Sept. 16.
Another close game was played Friday afternoon at Eagle Stadium.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, a 27-24 loss to the Coyotes in a Class 4A Division I semifinal ended their season.
With 28 seconds remaining in the ballgame and Celina (11-2) trailing Anna by three points, the Bobcats started at their own 15 following a Coyotes punt and had a chance to either tie or win the game.
Celina senior quarterback Noah Bentley completed a 10-yard pass to senior Will Taylor to move the chains. However, with just one second remaining, a pass by Bentley fell incomplete, and the Bobcats' season ended.
Anna (13-0) advances to next week’s regional final and will play China Spring winner at a time and location to be determined. It is the first regional final in school history for the Coyotes.
“Our kids just rallied, stayed in the fight, kept doing what we asked them to do,” said Bill Elliott, Celina head coach. “They’ve just got a lot of heart in them. Anna is a talented team. We were just having a hard time staying on the field with them.”
Celina had just 37 yards of offense in the second half until Bentley engineered a scoring drive for the Bobcats, starting with 4:50 remaining in the ballgame. Bentley spotted senior Will Taylor wide open up the field for a 43-yard touchdown, reducing Anna’s lead to 27-24 with 3:14 remaining.
Bentley went 13-of-20 through the air for 146 yards and one touchdown and also had 36 rushing yards with one touchdown.
It was the final football game in the high-school career for Bentley, who is an Oklahoma baseball signee. Celina went 35-13 over the last four seasons.
“He’s been a great leader for us the last four years with the way that he has worked hard,” Elliott said. “He’s a great man and is going to have a great future because of how hard he works and the kind of competitor he is.”
Mistakes ultimately hurt Celina on Friday. The Bobcats committed two turnovers, compared to none for the Coyotes, and also have five defensive holding or pass-interference penalties in the second half that extended drives for Anna.
Celina’s defense held firm after those two Anna takeaways and held the Coyotes to field goals of 24 and 30 yards by Michael Hinkley. Hinkley’s 30-yarder, which came shortly after Anna senior Jonathan Brown jumped a route for an interception at the Celina 36-yard line, gave the Coyotes a 27-16 lead with 4:50 remaining in the ballgame.
“They just kind of changed up what they were doing,” Elliott said. “They started loading the box up, doing a lot of stunts inside. We had a hard time picking it up.”
The Bobcats’ defense was strong all day. The Coyotes mustered just 275 yards of offense. Senior quarterback Evan Bullock threw for 211 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-36 through the air.
“Our defense played their butts off,” Elliott said. “They played hard. Our coaches did a good job of making adjustments. They went after it. I’m proud of the way that they went out and played.”
The first half featured four lead changes with Anna taking a 21-16 lead with 1:15 remaining in the second quarter after an 11-yard touchdown pass from Bullock to Brown. Brown was strong playing both ways for the Coyotes. On offense, he finished with six receptions for 69 yards and two scores.
Bullock factored into all three touchdowns in the first half for Anna, throwing scores on passes of 41, 29 and 11 – the last two of which were caught by Brown.
Celina took a 16-14 lead when senior Trae Hollins burst 6 yards around the right end for a score with 2:30 remaining in the first half. Two penalties for 30 yards on the same play committed by Anna for a facemask and a dead-ball personal foul set up the score.
It was the final time that Celina led on Friday.
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