Defense forces 5 turnovers, Hornets sting Knights in opener

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Robert Shaw

The Roswell Varsity Hornets take the field for their opening game against the Centennial Knights on September 18, 2020. Carrying the flag is Evan Plunkett (12). The Hornets defeated the Knights 42-13.

Rajath Prabhakar, Director of Design

The opening game of the 2020 season featured two coaches making their respective debuts. For the Centennial Knights, Sean O’Sullivan, their third head coach in four years. For the Roswell Hornets, Chris Prewett, who was promoted from his previous position as defensive coordinator. 

1st Quarter

Roswell won the toss and deferred. Centennial took the ensuing touchback and proceeded to go three-and-out. After taking over just past midfield, running back Ryan Hill (11) fumbled on his first carry. It was recovered by Brandon Smith (12) of the Knights. Centennial took full advantage. Four plays later, Branden Wooden (10) found the end zone, punching it in from 6 yards out. Matthew Baratian (11) made the extra point. 

Centennial 7, Roswell 0

Michael Fitzgerald (12) had a nice return off the ensuing kickoff, putting the ball inside the Centennial 40. Robbie Roper (11) found Marquis Willis for a gain of 13. After Ryan Hill’s 5-yard carry, Roper connected with Fitzgerald for a 19 yard touchdown. Senior Caden Long made the PAT. 

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Centennial 7, Roswell 7

The rest of the quarter would feature the two defenses trading punches. The first quarter ended with a Centennial three-and-out, featuring a Harrison Duncan (12) sack and nice pass coverage by Dillon Hollifield (12)

Centennial 7, Roswell 7

2nd Quarter

A nice punt return by Marquis Willis (12) put the Hornets in business just outside the red zone. After Ryan Stephens (11) picked up 5 on the first play, the Hornets were aided by an ill-timed pass interference by the Knights. 2 plays later, Stephens found the end zone to put Roswell in front. Long made the point-after. 

Centennial 7, Roswell 14

The Knights’ possession stalled out after 5 plays. Sensing the momentum swing in the Hornets’ favor, they tried to fake a punt on 4th and 7, but this effort was ultimately snuffed out by Evan Plunkett (12), turning the ball over inside the 30. Centennial was immediately forced to pay as Roper found Willis for the score. 

“On the earlier punts I saw him eying me so I knew he was given the option to either run or kick it so I knew that I need to stay home and wait for the kick to get off”. said Plunkett. “On that specific punt once I saw him tuck it I knew he wasn’t kicking it”.

Centennial 7, Roswell 21

Taking over from their 26, Centennial quarterback Zaire Goff (10) found Julian Nixon (12) for 22 yards on second down. Following a Hornet personal foul, Goff’s pass was intercepted by Plunkett, who returned it to the Roswell 45. Chris Prewett’s team capitalized, going 45 yards in 7 plays. It was capped off by a 7 yard touchdown run by Robbie Roper, his third of the game. 

Centennial 7, Roswell 28

Centennial went 3 and out yet again, capped off by an Evan Plunkett sack. Four plays later, Ryan Hill would take us to halftime.

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Centennial 7, Roswell 28

3rd Quarter

Coach O’Sullivan showed shades of Nick Saban when the Knights attempted an onside kick to open the second half. This was successful, and Centennial opened on the Hornets 48 yard line. The Knights couldn’t do anything with this opportunity, and the drive stalled out yet again at the 37, eventually turning the ball over on downs. Roswell responded by feeding Centennial a steady diet of run plays, finding the end zone 4 plays later when Ryan Hill waltzed into the endzone on a 30 yard scamper, putting the game out of reach. 

Centennial 7, Roswell 35

The Knights responded with a promising 10 play drive, but stalled just outside midfield. Punt. The Hornets took the punt and worked methodically down the field. Hill found the end zone again for his second touchdown of the game, capping off a 9 play, 76 yard drive. 

Centennial 7, Roswell 42

Taking over from their own 34, Goff ’s pass was nearly intercepted by Hill Plunkett (10). Following a 2 yard run by Goff, the sophomore quarterback would be picked off for real, this time by Ethan Nation (10). Roswell could not take advantage, however, as David Laughter’s (11) pass, intended for Brian Najar (12), was picked off by Johnsley Barbas (10), who returned it to the Hornet 41, ending the third quarter. 

Centennial 7, Roswell 42

4th Quarter

Jett Miller (10) made his debut as the Knights’ new quarterback. After completions of 9, 8 and 8, Ian Matthews (11) intercepted Miller’s pass inside the 10. The Knights got the ball back after a turnover on downs, and turned it into a consolation score. Goff connected with Drake Mason (12) for a 46 yard touchdown. However, Baratian missed the extra point. 

Centennial 13, Roswell 42

The Hornets’ defense picked up right where it left off last year, forcing 5 more turnovers, including 3 interceptions. Roswell won the turnover battle, 5-3.

“For our defense we were able to pick up keys from their offensive line to tell us if it was a pass or run play.” said Army commit Evan Plunkett.  “Also, we were able to disguise our blitzes very well which was confusing their QB a lot.”

Centennial falls to 0-1, their 12th straight loss going back to November 9, 2018. The Knights will play Peachtree Ridge on September 25. Roswell improves to 1-0, and will play North Paulding on Sept. 25. Yes, that North Paulding