Columbia rolls past Trinity Christian
Charged up coming off a loss at Madison, Columbia's defense rose to the occasion against the defending state champions. The Tigers slowed down the Conquerors, limiting them to a season-low 113 rushing yards and forcing three fumbles.
The Conquerors also struggled to contain running back Teon Dollard. Columbia's bruising running back registered 138 total yards and a touchdown as his team held on for a 24-14 victory over powerhouse Trinity Christian Friday night at Tiger Stadium.
"I can say I am really proud," said wide receiver Marquez Bell. "We bounced back from the two losses. Most teams would be kicking themselves, keeping their head down like they're done. We showed that we're still in this. I'm proud."
Columbia (4-2) held Trinity Christian (4-2) to its lowest-point total of the season while avenging the shutout loss to the Conquerors last year in Jacksonville. The Tigers remain undefeated at home after an astounding non-conference win.
"They deserve the praise for they way they came out and played," said Columbia coach Brian Allen. "If we come out with the same effort that I saw at Madison, we're going to win a lot of ballgames. We're going to clean up some of the mistakes that have been showing up but we're going to win a lot ball games. That effort can't be replaced but the mistakes can be."
Some early mistakes left the Tigers trailing. After Austin Thomas' 7-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive, Dollard punched in an 1-yard score midway through the first. Columbia entered intermission with a three-point lead following Aidan Jolliffee's 23-yard field goal under a minute left.
Columbia quarterback Jordan Smith starred in his first career start. The sophomore's 15-yard touchdown pass to Bell late in the third quarter gave the Tigers a two-score lead. Trinity Christian answered early in the fourth on a 11-yard touchdown catch by Isaiah Washington. On the strength of Dollard, the Tigers were back in the end zone minutes later. The 75-yard scoring drive was capped off by Smith on a 3-yard touchdown run. Trinity Christian soon was on the move, trying to cut the 10-point deficit late. Sirr Rollins' interception on a fourth down desperation heave sealed the upset over one of the best programs in the state Friday night.
"If we execute our gameplan every week, there's no stopping us," said linebacker Ethan Umstead. "There's no team in the country that can beat us if we execute."
The Tigers enter the bye week with a full head of steam, looking to refocus and retool before beginning the rest of their district schedule in two weeks.
"We're not guaranteed yet," Umstead said of playoffs. "We got to finish every game. We got to play every game like it's our last and we'll end up in the championship."
Once the Tigers return from rest week, they'll welcome the Atlantic Coast Stingrays.
Columbia strives to finish out strong, and once again reach postseason play.
"Like coach BA says everyday, our next game is the biggest game," said cornerback Derek Johnson. "We just got to stay focused. We got big dreams."