What looked like the start of a blowout Friday night in Wildcat Stadium when Central High School quarterback Caleb Nix breezed through the middle of Enterprise High School’s defense on a 35-yard touchdown run on the game’s sixth offensive play, proved to be anything but a runaway.
Central’s Red Devils (5-0, 3-0) overcame two lost fumbles and an intercepted pass to escape with a 36-27 win against the scrappy EHS Wildcats in a key 7A Region 2 war fought to the bitter end by the Cats.
After Charles Paul’s PAT following the game’s first touchdown put the Devils ahead 7-0, there were no more scores in the first quarter.
Central’s fast, huge offensive and defensive lines and overall team speed were the game’s story.
Enterprise (4-1, 1-1) had three possessions in the first quarter and gained 27 total yards and one first down, running mostly from its single wing set.
Wildcat prospects looked gloomy when Central doubled its score at 9:55 of the second quarter on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Nix to Marquevious Terry, finishing a 50-yard, 5-play drive.
Paul’s PAT put the Devils ahead 14-0.
After swapping punts with the visitors from Phenix City, the Cats put together a 5-play, 46-yard scoring drive of their own; Mykel Johnson outran CHS defenders on the drive’s 18-yard touchdown.
Drew Pickard’s PAT cut Central’s lead to 14-7 with 5:56 left in the first half.
Scoring was far from over before intermission.
Central covered 43 yards in 3 plays for its next score that came on a 16-yard TD pass from Nix to Karmello English with 5:03 showing on the second period clock.
Paul’s PAT put the Devils ahead 21-7.
Again, Enterprise answered the bell, this time launching a 63-yard drive that produced a 3-yard touchdown run by Amare Griffin on its eighth play.
Pickard’s PAT brought the score to 21-14 with 58 seconds left in the first half.
That was more than enough time for Central to close out the half with a score: a 21-yard Paul field goal with 2 seconds left in the half.
The Devils covered 67 yards in 7 plays to gain their 24-14 halftime lead.
Enterprise did all the scoring in the third stanza.
Johnson’s 1-yard run at the end of a 47-yard drive and Pickard’s PAT cut Central’s lead to 24-21 with 8:46 left in the third period.
Brison Chatman recovered a Central fumble following the Cats TD, but Enterprise turned the ball over on downs four plays later when Quentin Hayes was stuffed at Central’s 38 on fourth-and-3.
Marshawn Fitzpatrick got the ball back for the Cats by forcing a fumble, that was recovered by Xavier Moore, on Central’s sixth play, bringing the EHS offense back on the field at the home 6-yard line.
Enterprise earned a pair of first downs before having Johnson punt; the 21-yard pooch punt forced Central to start its next drive from its 19-yard line as the third quarter entered the history book.
The vaunted Central offense controlled the game’s next few minutes.
Central’s 10-play, 81-yard drive ended with an 11-yard touchdown sprint by Romello Green with 8:42 left in the game.
An errant PAT try put Central ahead 30-21.
The Cats then launched a masterful drive that used 16 plays to cover 63 yards and cut into Central’s lead.
Griffin got the touchdown on a 2-yard run with 1:39 remaining in the game. Central blocked the PAT, leaving the score 30-27.
That’s when the heartache began for the valiant Enterprise squad.
The Cats used an onside kick looking for the first win over the Devils since 2015. Central’s English grabbed the ball in mid air and dashed 48 yards for a touchdown, the dagger that did in the Cats.
The final score arrived at 36-27 with 1:33 left to play.
Enterprise had four plays before game’s end, but failed to advance beyond its 31-yard line and turned the ball over on downs.
Central had the game’s final snap to seal the deal.
Behind their massive offensive line, speedy Central backs combined for 313 yards on 28 rushing attempts.
Nix went 14-22-1 for 185 passing yards; Fitzpatrick made the interception for Enterprise at the EHS 19-yard line near the end of the first period.
Enterprise had 47 rushes for 261 yards and gained 32 yards on four completions in 13 passing attempts.
Next week, all 7A Region 2 teams play non-region games.
The Cats are scheduled to celebrate homecoming Friday against Ft. Walton Beach High School and Central hosts the Opelika Bulldogs.
Elsewhere in Region 2 next week, Auburn (5-0, 3-0) travels to Bob Jones, Dothan (1-3, 0-3) heads to Gadsden County Florida, Jeff Davis (0-4, 0-2) faces Carver Montgomery, Smiths Station (1-3, 0-2) entertains Benjamin Russell and Prattville (4-1, 2-1) hosts Hoover.