Update: Century's Levi Bates, who was taken off the field on a stretcher late in the fourth quarter of Friday's game, was discharged from Portneuf Medical Center on Saturday morning and walked to his car, according to Century head coach Travis Hobson. After the game Friday, Hobson said Bates felt tingling in his left arm and had a lot of neck pain. "He's going to be fine," Hobson said Saturday.
POCATELLO -- Trailing 24-7 with no momentum, Century needed a special fourth quarter.
How about 19 points in less than five minutes?
A 77-yard punt return and two long touchdown passes flipped the Diamondbacks' 24-7 fourth-quarter deficit into a 26-24 lead, which withstood Pocatello's last-second field-goal try, in Century's homecoming victory Friday at Holt Arena.
Century and its anytime offense needed just seven plays over the final 12 minutes after getting a spark from "Mr. Lightning in a Bottle, himself," to rally and win its conference opener against its crosstown rival.
"We just never gave up," Century junior tight end Titan Fleischmann said. "There was no point in that game where we thought we were going to lose. We knew we were going to win that game."
The game that tilted Pocatello's way all night began to teeter early in the fourth quarter.
D-backs junior Jovan Sowell started the comeback with a 77-yard punt return touchdown with 10 minutes, 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter. It got the Diamondbacks going after they had been held scoreless since tying the game at 7-7 with 3:45 left in the first.
Century's next three offensive plays all went for 30 yards or more. Quarterback Nathan Manning hit Sowell for 32 yards and found Bruin Fleischmann for a 30-yard score to make it 24-20 at the 7:49 mark. Century's next play was a 66-yard TD bomb from Manning to Drew Gunter, giving Century its first lead of the night, 26-24, with 5:23 to play in the fourth.
Playing from behind for the first time all game, Pocatello scrambled to get into scoring range. The Indians turned the ball over on downs with 1:51 to play, but got it back after forcing a Century punt. Poky's final drive started on its own 48-yard line with 49 ticks on the clock, and ended at Century's 27, where Matt Christensen missed a 44-yard field goal as time expired.
The Indians rode quarterback Jadyn Downs and top target Matt Ney on their way to a 24-7 lead. Attempting to control the clock in the fourth, Poky turned to the run, but was ineffective. Four of the Indians' eight fourth-quarter rushes went for zero or negative yards.
The results were three punts and the aforementioned turnover on downs, which gave Century's offense all the chances it needed.
"You give a quarterback like Manning some extra shots, it's hard to keep him down for that long," Pocatello coach Dave Spillett said. "We're going to watch film and realize we left a lot out there that we probably should've had."
For most of the night, Pocatello held Manning down.
Century's senior all-state QB threw three interceptions Friday -- including one on the first play of the fourth quarter -- and passed for 43 yards through three frames. He finished with 171 yards and two scores after the backbreakers to Fleischmann and Gunter, and added 42 yards rushing on six carries.
PHOTOS: Century vs. Pocatello football
Bruin Fleischmann was Manning's No. 1 option, catching four passes for 47 yards and the fourth-quarter touchdown. The sophomore also scored the D-backs' first TD on a 42-yard run, which Manning aided by laying a bonecrushing block.
Gunter, who looks the part of a No. 1 wideout at 6 foot 5 and 200 pounds, was rarely targeted Friday. Manning spotted him down the sideline late in the fourth and fired to start the 66-yard catch-and-run -- Gunter's lone catch in the game.
But the game-changer was Sowell, who used his quickness to duck three Poky tacklers on his way to the punt return that ignited the Diamondbacks' rally.
"He got us going. We needed something," Gunter said. "It just lit a spark in everybody. Everybody got going after that. Every single person on that roster got going right after that."
Sowell caught five touchdown passes in Century's 42-20 win last week over Idaho Falls. The 5-foot-7 speedster only needed one big play Friday.
"Mr. Lightning in a Bottle, himself," D-backs coach Travis Hobson said. "That sparked an entire comeback. That sparked one of the better comebacks I've been a part of."
Downs, Pocatello's first-year QB, carried the offense with 297 yards passing, 58 yards rushing, three TD passes and no interceptions. He helped convert nine third downs and one fourth down, leading Poky's effort to sustain early drives and keep Century's powerful offense sidelined.
He and Ney thrived as a duo. The senior hauled in 12 catches for 132 yards and a 35-yard touchdown in the third quarter -- Poky's final score of the game. Ney did his damage in the first half and was reined in after that, tallying just four receptions in the third and fourth frames combined.
Pocatello's first score of the game was a 26-yard fourth-down pass from Downs to Jaxon Williams. Downs' 74-yard strike to Zach Park made it 14-7 early in the second period.
Christensen made a 40-yard field goal at the first-half buzzer, and Ney's TD grab gave the Indians their 24-7 lead.
"I continue to be really proud of our fight," Spillett said. "We're having a hard time putting four quarters together. ... We had a great first half, made some plays in the second half, but not enough."
The Gate City was treated to an instant classic to cap off Week 3. And somehow, all Titan Fleischmann could do was think about math class, giving a special shoutout to Mr. Morris, his fourth-period teacher.
Whatever helps you game plan, young man.
"Nothing like Friday-night lights, man," he said. "Nothing like Friday-night lights."
- Before Friday's kickoff, a ceremony was held to honor fallen Century High School alumnus Nick Gummersall, who was killed in action in 2007. His No. 47, which was previously retired by the Diamondbacks, will be worn by a selected player each season, starting next year. Each player will be selected by the Century coaching staff with approval from the Gummersall family, and must "embody what Nick believed in: hard work, team player, belief in community bigger than an individual, and selflessness," Hobson said.
- Century senior lineman Levi Bates was taken off the field on a stretcher and transported to Portneuf Medical Center late in the fourth quarter. Bates was injured during a fourth-down play and stayed on the field for several minutes while being attended to by medial personnel. Hobson said after the game that Bates was "moving his feet, but had a lot of neck pain," at PMC, and was "moving his right arm, but felt tingling" in his left arm while down on the field. Hobson said he expects Bates to be OK.
Pocatello (1-2, 0-1 4A District 4-5) plays Highland on Friday at Holt Arena. Century (2-1, 1-0 4A District 4-5) plays Friday at Preston.
CENTURY 26, POCATELLO 24
Pocatello 7 10 7 0 — 24
Century 7 0 0 19 — 26
P — Williams 26 pass from Downs (Christensen kick), 6:56
C — B. Fleischmann 42 run (Henkey kick), 3:45
P — Park 74 pass from Downs (Christensen kick), 10:08
P — Christensen 40 field goal, 0:00
P — Ney 35 pass from Downs (Christensen kick), 8:13
C — Sowell 77 punt return (kick failed), 10:12
C — B. Fleischmann 30 pass from Manning (kick failed), 7:49
C — Gunter 66 pass from Manning (kick failed), 5:23
Passing — Pocatello: Downs 26-38, 297-3-0. Century: Manning 10-19, 171, 2-3.
Rushing — Pocatello Payne 8-3, Downs 11-58, Killian 2-11, Lindley 4-41, TEAM 1-(-4). Century: Sowell 3-26, Andersen 2-10, Manning 6-42, B. Fleichmann 2-44-1, Lang 2-4, Hillman 1-6, Gouchner 1-(-2).
Receiving — Pocatello: Ney 12-132-1, Williams 2-32-1, Payne 3-7, Park 6-108-1, Christensen 2-18, Killian 1-0. Century: Andersen 2-18, Sowell 2-35, B. Fleischmann 4-47-1, T. Fleischmann 1-5, Gunter 1-66-1.