(Talk of the Town photo by Andrew Ferrell) Top, Columbia City junior Ben Murphy lays a hit on an East Noble player.
By Andrew Ferrell
Nights like Friday night at Max Gandy Athletic Field speak volumes about a program, especially a football program waiting to bust away from the problems in the past to a winning tradition. Even though Columbia City suffered a loss in the 30 seconds of Friday night’s game against the East Noble Knights, Eagle fans could see that their team is headed in the right direction.
“I’m proud of the effort, intensity, and fire we showed. Even though we fought a lot of adversity, we kept battling and kept going,” head coach Randy Hudgins said.
Columbia City got out to an early 7-0 lead, late in the first quarter, after an interception by junior Cory Clifford turned into a touchdown score on a pass from quarterback Logan Rehrer to junior receiver Austin Grim with 5:55 showing on the clock.
Only seconds later, Columbia City would put more points on the board after a sack on the Knights quarterback A.J. Dove caused a fumble and Eagle linebacker Jacob Moser scooped it up and ran it in for the score. With 5:40 left in the quarter, the Eagles led 14-0.
The first quarter closed with East Noble scoring on a nine-play 90-yard drive, led by a 37-yard run by East Noble running back Tyler Truax. At the end of the quarter, the Eagles still led 14-7.
After a Columbia City punt, East Noble opened up their first possession of the second quarter on the legs of Truax, who scrambled for 17 yards to the their own 46-yard line. On the ensuing play, Dove connected with Jordan Gater for a 53-yard touchdown pass, knotting the game at 14-14.
The Columbia City defense stepped up on the next two East Noble possessions as senior Alex Parker intercepted a Dove pass and senior linebacker Tyler Brown caused another fumble, recovering it with 1:42 left to play in the half.
As the Eagles looked to head into the locker room with a halftime lead, a pass from Rehrer to junior receiver Stephen Farrer was picked off by an East Noble’s Patrick Luttman.
A Columbia City penalty pushed the Knights to a first and goal, where Luax pushed his way in for the score, giving the Knights a 21-14 lead at half.
The Knights started the second half in similar fashion to the first half as Dove threw an interception to cornerback Ben Murphy. Rehrer hooked up with Murphy on the first play, for a 15-yard gain and then with Farrer for a 27-yard gain.
After an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Knights, Rehrer scored on a quarterback keeper from 10 yards out, evening the game at 21-21 with 10:02 left in the quarter.
The Knights went back on top early in the fourth quarter when Gater took a direct snap, handed off to Truax, who tossed back to Dove, and Dove connected with Tanner Fugate on 48-yard trickery play with 10:37 showing on the clock.
The Eagles didn’t buckle under pressure and methodically drove the ball in for the score on an 11-play 71-yard scoring drive, ending with another Rehrer sneak into the end zone with 6:42 left in the game.
“I told the kids in the fourth quarter, after they scored their touchdown, that here is where the old Columbia City might have folded up, but we don’t do that anymore,” Hudgins said.
On their next drive, East Noble, pushed the ball back down the field to the Columbia City 15-yard line, aided by a facemask penalty. East Noble couldn’t get the ball into the end zone and connected on a field goal from 32-yards out, handing the Knights the 31-28 lead with 2:00 minutes to play.
Rehrer and the Columbia City offense were determined to find a way to win and marched down to the East Noble 17-yard line. With 30 seconds left, Rehrer threw a pass to the end zone and watched it be picked off by an East Noble defender.
East Noble ran the clock down and handed Columbia City a heartbreaking loss. Columbia City drops to 1-6 (1-4 NHC) on the season and travels to Carroll before returning home for their senior night contest against Norwell.
Meaning it in good fashion Hudgins concluded by saying, “The old Columbia City died on the field tonight and we all witnessed it, this is where we turn the corner.”