HANOVER, Ind. – Junior quarterback Clark Payne recorded five touchdowns in his starting debut, and No. 20 Centre football handed Hanover a 45-31 defeat in the 2019 season opener at Alumni Stadium.
It marked the sixth straight season-opening victory for the Colonels (1-0) over the Panthers (0-1), and moves the all-time series record to 32-13-2 in favor of Centre.
- Questions about Centre's offense were quickly answered, as the Colonels scored touchdowns on their first three possessions. Patric Edwards capped a three play, 71-yard drive for the opening score.
- Hanover was able to convert two fourth downs on its ensuing drive to tie the game at 7-7, but the Colonels marched down the field in response. Clark Payne found Hagen Ellis for the first of his five touchdown passes, making it 14-7 after the PAT.
- On their next drive, Payne hit Sam Murray in the back corner of the end zone on a spectacular catch, increasing Centre's lead.
- Jay Becherer provided another highlight-worthy catch later in the second quarter, setting Centre up inside the 10-yard line. Payne found Jordan Gunter in the end zone on the next play.
- The Colonel defense proved to be too stout for the Panthers in the first half, forcing four punts in total. Even when Hanover gained possession at Centre's 26-yard line early in the second period they were limited to just a field goal.
- Gunter broke away for a 56-yard touchdown catch-and-run to end the half, escaping a tackle along the way while giving Centre a 35-10 advantage heading to the locker rooms.
- Hanover's offense found its rhythm in the third quarter, scoring on its first two possessions.
- Payne was able to answer one of those scores with a touchdown toss to senior Mack Cox, capping an eight play, 68-yard drive.
- Tanner South's 26-yard field goal in the fourth were the final points put up by the Colonels, who would hold on for a 45-31 victory.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- Centre's offense hit paydirt on five of its six possessions in the first half. All told, the Colonels' balanced approach racked up 521 yards, including 277 via Payne's arm and 244 on the ground.
- The three-headed rushing attack was led by Edwards, who finished with 110 yards on 15 carries. Dameon Jones Jr. had 77 yards on 16 carries, and Zarian Hunter Cure totaled 60 on 12 attempts.
- Ten different Colonels caught a pass, but Gunter led the way with 91 yards and two scores on his four catches.
- Carter Smith paced the Colonels with six total tackles, including 1.5 TFL. Nate Johnson, Karim Kimble and Keanan John each finished with five tackles.
- Ryan Smith, Carter Smith and Clayton Bell each finished with a sack, and Johnson led the defensive backs with two breakups.
- Centre converted on six of its seven red zone opportunities.
- South hit all six of his PAT attempts, as well as his lone field goal try.
The Colonels host Maryville next Saturday in their home opener at 7 p.m. inside Farris Stadium.