Columbia safety Alec Norton (11) tackles Escambia running back Stephen McGhee during Friday night’s game at Emmitt Smith Field. (BRENT KUYKENDALL/Special to the Reporter)

Tigers chew up Gators

CHS breaks its losing streak with a win on the road.

PENSACOLA — The stadium seats began thinning out. Minutes before the final whistle blew, Escambia fans headed for the exit — they had seen enough.

The visiting Tigers spoiled their night.

Columbia’s offense looked reborn, and the defense was in midseason form.

Once the Tigers smelled blood, the Gators didn’t have a chance. 

Columbia scored 19 unanswered — including a safety and an interception touchdown — against Escambia’s haggard defense in the second half.

The Tigers’ sound performance on both sides of the ball secured their second win of the season as Columbia held on for a 40-20 victory over Escambia.

Not only did Columbia (2-3) avenge last season’s loss to Escambia (1-4), but the team also snapped its three-game losing streak Friday night.

“All those losses just motivated us,” defensive end Ranadree Bradley said. “We’re working hard. [Practice] was different this week because of the losses. We had to get our assignments right, and it showed on the field.” 

For the first time this season, Columbia’s ferocious defense received a boost from the offense, which looked reborn against the Gators. 

Columbia quarterback Davin Schuck had his strongest outing of the season. The senior tallied 214 total yards and a touchdown.

Columbia running back Kamario Bell got the offense rolling early on, scoring two touchdowns on back-to-back drives. Bell amassed 140 of his 172 rushing yards in the first half. 

The Tigers defeated the Gators overwhelmingly despite a rough start.

Escambia running back Queven Dosunmu went 82 yards for a touchdown on the Gators’ opening drive. The home team also recovered the ensuing kickoff.

“Even at that time of the game, I knew we could have success offensively,” Columbia head coach Brian Allen said. 

The Tigers’ offense indeed rose to the occasion. And now Columbia moves ahead into its bye week after a confidence-boosting win.

“You’ll take them however you can get them,” Allen said of the penalty-filled victory. “It comes down to wins. I definitely don’t like the penalties. We’ve still got a lot of laundry and still have things to clean up … We must continue to push forward and grow.”

Columbia takes the field after the bye week for a 4A-7A matchup against undefeated Bolles. The Tigers defeated the Bulldogs in Jacksonville last season. 

“It’s a great feeling to get back in the win column,” defensive back Sir Rollins said. “One game at a time.” 

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