Written by Ryan Jones
Celina pulls away in second half to beat Lovejoy
Loss of star running back doesn’t stop team on way to quarterfinals
FRISCO — For the second straight week, star running back Jamarick Simmons was limited with a leg injury, leaving the Celina Bobcats with some major questions on offense.
And for the second straight week, Nathan Elliott provided the answers.
Elliott, Celina’s freshman quarterback, accounted for 305 total yards — including 178 on the ground — and all five Bobcat touchdowns as Celina (11-0) pulled away from Lovejoy (8-4) with a 37-17 win in their Class 3A Division I regional playoff game.
The Bobcats dug themselves into a 10-0 hole in the first quarter after their first three drives yielded a pair of three-and-outs and an interception. But that’s when Elliott took over, knowing he had to make up for Simmons’ absence.
“It just makes me want to work harder because I know I’m going to have to carry a little extra weight,” Elliott said. “I just prepared really hard for this week.”
It showed. Elliott got the Bobcats on the board with a 30-yard run early in the second quarter, then gashed the Lovejoy defense for a 63-yard score in midway through the third to give Celina its first lead of the night.
But the key play for Celina came just three minutes later, when Zack Bilderback hit tight end Blake Pasqua for a 31-yard gain on a fake punt. Elliott scored on the very next play, putting Celina firmly in control.
It was very likely the best game of the quarterback’s young career.
“Maybe,” Elliott said. “But there’s always room for improvement.”
Celina will play Henderson in the 3A Division I quarterfinal next week.