CENTERVILLE — Homecoming. A new school record. But most importantly: a Centerville victory.

The Big Reds stayed alive in the post-season race Friday, using a school-record performance by Sawyer Wardlow to overwhelm the short-staffed Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont Rockets 55-20.

Wardlow tallied all eight of Centerville’s touchdowns on Friday, a single-game school record that bested a seven-touchdown performance by Jaxson Ocker in 2018.

Against the backdrop of Centerville’s homecoming celebration and final home game of their season, the Big Reds faced what was essentially a must-win game to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The Big Reds opened their first drive on their 41-yard line. Centerville took less than 90 seconds to score. After a Wardlow quarterback keeper gave the Big Reds a first down, a pass to Griffin Weber gained about 13 yards before he fumbled the ball, but it was recovered by Kade Mosley and advanced to the EBF 17 yard line. With a 17-yard run, Wardlow put the Big Reds on the board.

Eddyville responded less than 30 seconds later, with a quick drive capped by a 10-yard run by Blake Jager.

The squads volleyed two other scores in the quarter, with Wardlow using a quarterback-option play to score on a 33-yard run. Eddyville answered with a 92-yard touchdown pass from Alex Garmon to Jesse Cornelison to tie the game 14-14.

After trading punts, Centerville hit the board again with 28 seconds left in the first quarter. Wardlow passed the ball to Jayden Ruiz for a 32-yard reception. Wardlow finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run. That gave Centerville a 21-14 lead — one they’d not surrender.

In their first possession of the second quarter, it appeared penalties might cut it short for the Big Reds. Back-to-back false start penalties started the drive, followed by a negative-yardage run play. An eight-yard pass to Alejandro Alvarado came before the third false start penalty of the drive. A penalty for an ineligible man downfield erased a would-be 56-yard touchdown reception by Ruiz. On third down and 26, Wardlow scrambled for a 25-yard gain. The Big Reds went into a hurry-up offense to convert on 4th and 1. They’d eventually score on a 17-yard run by Wardlow.

With 4:06 left in the first half, Centerville’s Wardlow threw a 14-yard reception to Alvarado to set up a one-yard keeper by Wardlow.

Eddyville stayed within striking distance with a 46-yard touchdown run by Cornelison, to make the score 35-20 heading into halftime.

Wardlow opened the second half with a four-yard touchdown run to tie the school record. Forty-six seconds into the fourth quarter, Wardlow broke the record with a 32-yard touchdown run that gave the Big Reds their final score of the game.

Centerville (3-3, 1-2) breaks a three-game losing streak in district play with Friday’s win. They finish the season on the road, first to Mid-Prairie and then to Central Lee.

Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont (1-5, 0-3) has dropped their last five games. They’re hoping for redemption as they host winless Central Lee on Friday in their homecoming game.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.


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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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