Written by Corbett Smith
Lovejoy defensive stands deny Celina, 17-0
DENTON - Six times Celina got the ball inside Lovejoy's 35-yard line.
Six times, Lovejoy made the stop.
Lovejoy, behind 14 points in the final five minutes, shutout favored Celina, 17-0, in a Class 3A Division I Region II area game at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
"We bent, but we didn't break," Lovejoy coach Jim Bob Puckett said. "Our kids rallied around ... I can't say enough about them."
Up 3-0 with eight minutes remaining, Puckett called a fake punt with the ball at Lovejoy's 40.
Ryan Lusby, who was 4 of 4 passing for 84 yards in the fourth quarter, completed a 20-yarder to Hayden Marsh on the fake punt to move the across midfield and keep the drive alive.
"We knew that they'd been blitzing off that edge all night," Lusby said. "I told Coach, if you want the fake punt, we've got it."
Seven plays later, Blake Martin scored on a 2-yard run, to give Lovejoy a 10-0 lead with 4:22 remaining.
Martin scored again less than two minutes later on a 1-yard run, set up by a fumble by Celina quarterback Jacob Stevenson.
Four turnovers put Lovejoy (11-1) on the defensive for much of the first three quarters.
Despite having a 3-0 halftime lead, on the strength of a 39-yard field goal into the wind by Eddie Puskarich, Lovejoy was outgained 144 to 68.
Celina (11-1) had two great chances in the second quarter to get on the scoreboard.
An 11-play 74-yard drive ended with Jose Romero's fumble on a 1st-and-goal play from the Lovejoy 6. Lovejoy's Nate O'Connor recovered at the 4.
But on the next play, Lovejoy running back Blake Martin fumbled, dropping the ball after running into his own lineman on a draw. Celina recovered at the Lovejoy 12 but couldn't capitalize.
A Hayden Marsh sack pushed Celina back to the 22-yard line, and Jesus Vargas missed a 34-yard field goal attempt two plays later.
"Their defense played great tonight," Celina coach Butch Ford said.