By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
Another strong first half performance put the Indians in position to roll to an easy win in their district opener.
The Commodores made sure that didn’t happen.
Tates Creek got two long kickoff returns — one for a touchdown — and used an effective air attack to rally, turning a potential blowout into a battle.
Dominique Hawkins scored three rushing touchdowns and Ken-Jah Bosley had two receiving touchdowns as Madison Central (5-2, 1-0 district) held on for a 45-38 win Friday in Richmond.
“They played hard,” Central senior Jamez Chenault said. “They played tough with us. We didn’t play to our full potential tonight.”
The Indians had leads of 15 points (21-6) and 16 points (28-12) in the first half and took a 17-point lead (35-18) mid-way through the third quarter.
But, the Commodores (3-5, 1-0) battled back.
Creek got a touchdown run and then a touchdown pass from Graham Gordon to get back within three points (35-32) early in the fourth quarter.
Chenault scored on a 12-yard run with 9:29 left in the game, but Dennis Oxendine returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown.
“We couldn’t stop them on defense and we couldn’t stop them on special teams either,” Bosley said. “We had enough resiliency to stop them at the end and that’s all that matters.”
Central got a 23-yard field goal from Zach Owsley with 3:38 left to go up by seven points, then stopped the Commodores on their final drive.
“We didn’t get any pressure on (Graham) or we got out of our rushing lanes,” Central coach Bert Browne said. “That killed us. It kills your secondary to give him that much time.”
The Indians’ offense looked sharp again in the first half.
In the past three games, Central has out-scored its opponents 86-26 in the first half and has taken at least a 16-point lead into halftime in every game. In those three wins, the Indians have racked up 693 first-half yards (231 a game) and have scored on 12 of their 20 first-half possessions.
“I think we are prepared and we take advantage of what people are doing,” Browne said.
On their first possession against Creek, the Indians went 42 yards on three plays, highlighted by a 7-yard TD run by Hawkins. The senior running back’s two-point conversion put Central up 8-0 just 3:04 into the game.
After Tates Creek hit a 34-yard TD pass to Tavon Dunn, the Indians put together a seven-play, 78-yard drive that once again resulted in a Hawkins touchdown, this time a 10-yard run.
Hawkins scored on a 38-yard run with 7:01 left in the first half that put Central up 21-6.
The Commodores responded with a 65-yard TD pass, but Bosley capped the first half with a 9-yard TD pass from Hunter Stocker.
At halftime, the Indians were out-gaining Tates Creek, 270-145. Central had 154 yards on the ground - 95 from Hawkins - and had limited the Commodores to just 17 yards rushing on 15 carries.
Bosley pushed the lead to 35-18 with a 25-yard TD pass from Stocker with 7:48 left in the third.
“The biggest trouble for us is stopping the pass,” Bosley said. “We still need to work on that. But, its good that we got our first district win.”
Chenault’s touchdown turned out to be the game-winner for Central. The Indians were wearing special pink jerseys to honor cancer victims, survivors and those battling the disease.
Several years ago, Chenault’s mother lost her battle with cancer.
“It felt good, but I was more happy just to help my team, because we needed that touchdown,” Chenault said. “So, I just had to do what I had to do. I feel like I played a pretty good game for my mom.”
Central finished a new season-high for total offense (509 yards) and points. Hawkins finished with 207 yards on 22 carries and Bosley had five catches for 86 yards. Stocker was 10-of-20 for two touchdowns and one interception.
The Indians are set to return to action Friday at district rival Lafayette.