CAIRO — Tyler Ruhl and his Centura teammates were kind of sick how their offense performed in the first half on Friday night against Wood River.
But, no matter. They made up for it after halftime.
The Centurions scored three touchdowns in a three minute, three second span of the fourth quarter that turned a 7-0 deficit into a 26-14 win over the Eagles.
“It was tough,” Ruhl said of the first half. “We just knew we had to keep fighting, keep playing hard and play all the way to the end.”
The Centurions had 29 yards of offense and four turnovers in the first half before flipping the switch.
Ruhl broke three tackles and scored on an 11-yard run on the opening play of the fourth quarter. And then he kicked the extra point to tie the game. After the Centura defense forced a three-and-out, Eli Wooden went 55 yards down the left side line on the first play after the punt to give the Centurions the lead for good.
“For some reason, this team has to feel their way into the game,” said Centura coach Cory Bohling. “But they never give up. They fight together and they finally got in the groove there in the fourth quarter.
“We knew this would be a good game with Wood River. These kids have lived 12 miles apart their whole life. (Wood River) did a heck of a job against us for most of the game. “
Centura couldn’t hold onto the ball in the first half and after a slow first quarter, Wood River was able to lean on their ground game for a 7-0 lead when Trey Zessin scored on a 2-yard run with 8:11 before half.
Wood River was knocking on the door again after Zessin picked up a Ruhl fumble and returned it 25 yards to the Centura 25. But with 1:31 before half, he lost the ball near the goal line and the score remained 7-0 at the break.
Both coaches said it was the biggest play of the game.
“I knew that would come back to haunt us,” Wood River coach Jeff Ashby said. “A two- score lead would have been huge and then we turn it over two more times in the second half. That was the difference in the ball game right there.”
Bohling said it was one of the few things that went his team’s way in the first half.
“That was huge,” he said. “If we go down 14-0 into the second half with them getting the ball, that can become insurmountable. I think we were upset about that first half. But they promise me every day they will turn it on when they need to and they did.”
The Centurions (4-2) had just 158 yards offense in the game, but 88 came in the decisive fourth quarter. Ruhl finished with 64 yards rushing on 17 attempts, and had just 48 yards passing including a touchdown to Tate Trumler.
Wood River (2-4) got 82 yards on the ground from Gideon Luehr and 53 yards from Zessin.