For the second consecutive week, the Celina football team had a lead in the fourth quarter of a razor-thin non-district matchup.
Once again, it was the opponent who made enough late-game plays to deny the Bobcats a victory.
Celina continued its search for its first win of the 2020 season last Friday after surrendering 10 unanswered points in a 10-7 overtime loss against Paris.
The Bobcats never trailed during four quarters of regulation at Wildcat Stadium, and only found themselves on the wrong end of the scoreboard after Paris’ Luis Ibarra sent a 38-yard field goal attempt through the uprights to secure a comeback victory that was there for the taking for Celina, now 0-2 on the season.
Celina’s lone score came on the first play of the second quarter as senior Isaiah Martinez weaved through the Paris defense for an 8-yard score and an early 7-0 advantage. It was a welcome sight for the Bobcats, who struggled to generate touchdowns in the red zone the week prior in a 32-20 loss to Melissa.
The Paris defense patched up any holes exploited, however, and kept Celina out of the end zone and off the scoreboard for the remainder of the contest. That included a red-zone chance in the third quarter that the Wildcats quashed by forcing and recovering a Bobcat fumble.
A stifling defensive effort by the Bobcats, led in the middle by junior linebacker Hunter Neely, subdued Paris plenty as well. The Wildcats were shut out for each of the first three quarters until drawing even with Celina with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Luke Hohenberger to Tyrelle Lewis that knotted the count at 7-7.
The Bobcats had two chances to put Paris back on the defensive — one at the end of regulation where they missed a 37-yard field goal and another on the first possession of overtime, which ended in an interception by the Wildcats.
The loss doubled as Celina’s first single-digit scoring effort since September 2017, a 10-9 loss to Argyle Liberty Christian, and getting back on track won’t come easy Friday back at Bobcat Field when the Bobcats welcome No. 1-ranked Argyle at 7:30 p.m.
Celina and Argyle renew their rivalry for the ninth consecutive year, although recent history has favored the Eagles as winners of five straight over the Bobcats. Celina’s last win over Argyle came in 2015 in a 46-36 victory.
Stout as the Bobcats’ defense has been to begin the season, enjoying not only strong play from Neely but up front between names like William Pace, Wyatt Stephens and Army Ellison, the level of difficulty ramps up significantly against an Argyle offense averaging 54 points and 475.5 yards per game so far.
That includes a 52-41 victory over Texarkana Pleasant Grove, the state’s No. 2 ranked team in Class 4A Division II, last week.
Celina’s stifling front seven will try and disrupt the rhythm of an offense chalked in skill-position talent, from wide receiver Cole Kirkpatrick, who had 29 touchdown catches as a junior, to running backs Tito Byce, who was held out of the Pleasant Grove game as a precaution, and Knox Scoggins, plus quarterback CJ Rogers, who already has 10 touchdown passes on the season.
The Bobcats look to find their groove on offense after totaling just three touchdowns through two games. Two of those have come from Martinez and the other on a 51-yard reception by sophomore running back Trae Hollins.