After receiving his first scholarship offer from Northern Arizona the day before, Centennial star running back John Hughes validated the attention, scoring four first half touchdowns in the Coyotes' 77-7 rout of the North Mustangs Friday night.
Hughes began to assert himself almost from the opening whistle, sprinting 74-yards on the game's first play from scrimmage to give the Coyotes an early 7-0 lead. After the Coyote defense forced the Mustangs to punt, a 33-yard strike from quarterback Dain McFarland to Matt Baugh would put Centennial in the red zone, where Hughes would punch it in two plays later from 10-yards out.
Despite hard running from Hughes and younger brother Anthony, Centennial's next possession would end in a missed field goal. North would pick up their only first down of the first half on the ensuing possession, only to punt the ball back late in the first quarter. A pair of McFarland passes would move the Coyotes' down to the North nine-yard line to end the opening period.
John Hughes would open the second quarter the same way he opened the game, sprinting in for a nine-yard score to push the Centennial lead to 21-0. Kicker Ryan Shaugher's third touchback of the night would give North the ball on their own 20, where a bad snap on second-and-10 would be recovered by Centennial's Jimmie Lewis. Lewis would race in for another Centennial score, and the Centennial lead had doubled less than two minutes into the second quarter.
A pair of incompletions and a run for no gain would force North to punt again, but after three positive pickups by Anthony Hughes Centennial would turn the ball over on a fumbled exchange. On second down North's Bernard Mendoza would make a nine-yard catch to give the Mustangs a third-and-short situation, where their ball-handling woes would appear again as Centennial recovered a North fumble on the Mustang-39. John Hughes would score his fourth touchdown on the ensuing play. Coyote linebacker Reggie Umuolo would take North's third turnover of the quarter into the end zone for a 42-0 Centennial lead.
Starting again from their own 20-yard line, North would give up the ball again on second down, with linebacker Austin Garday returning an interception 26-yards for Centennial's third defensive touchdown of the quarter. North would punt the ball away after three plays, and three straight Anthony Hughes runs would result in Centennial taking a 56-0 win into the second half.
North would march down the field to open the second half, as Mendoza ended the shut out with a 25-yard touchdown catch.
With the Hughes brothers now on the Centennial sidelines, sophomore Jebron Harrington and junior Aaron Smolinski would assume the rushing duties for the Coyotes. Harrington would respond with a career-long 72-yard sprint down to the Mustang three-yard line, and would into the end zone on his next carry. Smolinski would match that effort on the team's next drive, scoring from 25-yards out on a handoff. Senior Matt Boone would finish off the scoring on the ensuing kickoff, running a North fumble in for the final 77-7 margin.
Centennial asserted their dominance early with the Hugheses setting the pace, and a mammoth effort by their defense in the second quarter forced the game to get out of hand early on. McFarland and John Hughes found themselves on the sidelines early in the second quarter, and for the second week in a row the Coyotes' emptied their sidelines during the second half.
North's second quarter miscues kept the game from even approaching respectability; this was a game they weren't supposed to win and were probably unanimously expected to get blown out in but turnovers deep in their territory forced the game into an especially ugly turn.
When you have a pair of 100-yard rushers and your third-string back cracks the 80-yard mark the offensive line deserves a lot of credit. Both first-team and substitute blockers for Centennial made the job for the Coyote backs much easier.
Centennial's first-team defense enabled McFarland and John Hughes to make an early night of it. Their three consecutive scores in the second quarter did not decide the game, but they ensured that the Coyotes' offensive standouts would be healthy for next week's televised showdown with 3-1 Desert Vista.
In the losing effort North's Bernard Mendoza exhibited great toughness, consistently giving up his body on passing routes that ultimately ended in futility. His early receptions gave the Mustangs some semblance of offense, while his third quarter touchdown catch not only put an end to the shut out but was also an impressive effort on his behalf.