CORONA—The Inland Division playoffs haven’t been the runaway train that the regular season was, but the Corona Centennial football team continues to prove it can step on the gas when needed.
The top-seeded Huskies scored 17 unanswered points in the third quarter to pull away from visiting Vista Murrieta and win, 45-21, to claim its sixth Southern Section title this decade.
Barrinton Collins led the way for the Huskies (14-0), rushing for 286 yards in 42 carries and scoring five touchdowns.
“Coach told me we were going to pound the rock and that’s what we did,” Collins said.
Collins scored on runs of 17, 24 and two yards in the opening half, but the second-seeded Broncos cut Centennial’s lead to 21-14 on a 31-yard touchdown run by speedster Javonte Slater with 3 minutes 33 seconds remaining in the half.
That’s how it stood heading into the third quarter, when Collins scored on a 13-yard run on Centennial’s first drive. Vista Murrieta then fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Huskies tacked on a 31-yard field goal to increase their lead to 31-14.
The Broncos (12-2) failed to get a first down on their second drive as well, and Collins came right back with his fifth touchdown of the game, a three-yard leap into the end zone that pushed the lead to 38-14.
Vista Murrieta found a reason to get excited when Cody Piecukonis returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown with 5:13 left in the game. They appeared to force a fumble from Collins on the Huskies’ next drive and would have returned it for a touchdown, but the referee had blown the play dead.
Collins thought he had fumbled on the play as well.
“They smacked me pretty good,” he said. “I’ll be feeling that tonight.”
Centennial didn’t show any mercy after retaining possession, as quarterback Michael Eubank hit Larry Scott with a 16-yard touchdown pass, giving the Huskies their final 45-21 lead.
Scott was the go-to receiver in the passing game, catching eight passes for 153 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought I’d be the go-to guy because I’ve been in the previous games,” Scott said. “I had a high ankle sprain, so finally I got back to almost 100% and knew I would get a lot of catches.”
The Huskies can now sit back and wait for Sunday’s CIF bowl selections. Many predict they’ll get passed up for the open bowl bid and play Palo Alto in the Division I bowl game.
That’s just fine with Collins.
“It doesn’t matter, we’re here to play for a state championship,” Collins said. “If it’s our way, we’re going to win a state championship, we work too hard.”