For a while Friday night, it looked as though Mother Nature would be the most dominant force on the football field.
Following a weather delay of nearly two hours, Columbia used a dominant rushing attack, piling up 306 yards on the ground to come away with a 27-7 victory over North Pike at North Pike Middle School.
On the first play of the game, North Pike (1-1) nearly seized momentum, calling a fake reverse flea flicker, that appeared to be caught deep in Columbia territory. However, the pass was ruled incomplete, and the Jaguars would not be able to take control of the game thereafter.
North Pike Head Coach Matthew Mock said afterwards that if he had it to do over again, he would do it the same way. “I told them that was what we were going to do on the first play,” he said. “I said we were going to complete it, and go down and score, and it almost worked out that way. Aggressive play calling is part of the game, and I just wish we would’ve completed it.”
After picking off a pass from Jaguar quarterback Cardell McDowell, the visitors marched 65 yards in five plays for their first score of the night. Omar Johnson chewed up 60 yards on four carries, with the big play being a 35-yard jaunt to the North Pike 5. Johnathan Wiltz scored from five yards out, and Garrett Hillman’s PAT gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with just over 8 minutes left in the first quarter.
That was the start of a 21-point barrage in six and a half minutes as the Wildcats scored on a three-yard run by Johnson, and a 41-yard scamper by Josh Brown with just under two minutes to play in the first quarter to give Columbia a 21-0 lead.
Johnson led the way for the Wildcats with 143 yards and two scores on 18 carries. He added a two-yard score with 9:34 to play in the first half to give Columbia a 27-0 lead. The snap was fumbled on the PAT attempt and the conversion was no good.
Wiltz chipped in 87 yards and a score on 10 carries, while Brown totaled 49 yards and a score on seven carries. Brown also had one reception for 40 yards for the only completed pass registered by the Wildcats in the contest.
The homestanding Jaguars got on the board just before halftime as McDowell scored on a 10 yard keeper. Jace Brown’s PAT was good for the final margin of 27-7. The score was set up by a 54-yard completion from McDowell to senior Jacoby Matthews on a third and seven that moved the ball to the Wildcat 14.
North Pike nearly got on the board again before half after recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. However, Brown’s 47 yard field goal attempt came up short, but the Jaguars had momentum on their side heading into intermission.
“The game of football is a momentum game,” Mock said. “High school kids feed off of momentum and energy.”
The Jaguars used that springboard to give a spirited second half effort, not allowing a single point, as well as coming up with a strong goal line stand during which the Wildcats ran seven plays from inside the Jaguar 13. Senior defensive back Thomas May ended the threat for good, recovering a Wildcat fumble at the North Pike 1.
Mock also thanked the fans for staying with his team. “I appreciate our fans. They had to sit around for a while and they stuck with us.” Mock added “They saw that we were fighting in the second half, and we’re going to come back next week and fix the things that we need to fix, and I promise you next week we’ll be better.”
North Pike will try and get back on the winning track next Friday when they travel to take on Pass Christian.