By Maurice Patton
COLUMBIA — Staked to an early lead by its defense and special teams, Columbia Central put together a couple of successful second-half offensive drives Thursday night and put away visiting Dickson County 23-7.
Playing without a pair of starting offensive linemen – left tackle Louis Maddox sustained a shoulder injury during a midweek practice and left guard Jordan Brooks was lost to pandemic guidelines – the Lions struggled early on that side of the ball and finished with just 193 total yards.
However, bad snaps on each of the Cougars’ first two possessions resulted in safeties and a Nick Butler 26-yard interception return late in the first half gave the hosts a 10-point halftime cushion.
“The defense has to come through when the offense isn’t clicking,” said Butler, who grabbed a second Ethan Howell pass in the game’s late stages and returned it 32 yards to the Cougar 8-yard line and virtually put the victory on ice.
Helping preserve the early lead was Antwan Moore’s block of a 41-yard Austin Morris field goal attempt, keeping it a four-point game as the opening period ended.
“We just couldn’t finish,” first-year Dickson County coach Greg Burns said. “We did some little things that football teams do that are used to losing. We’ve got to get them to understand – it’s not big things, it’s little things. We made some progress from last week (a 28-21 loss to Creek Wood), but we’ve got a ton of work to do.”
Coming out of the locker room, Central gave the visitors an old-style taste of their own medicine. Working out of a formation featuring three running backs – a ‘strong I’ or ‘smoke-stack I’, utilized by former Dickson County coach Jerry Pearson during the Cougars’ heyday of the late 1980s – the Lions took nearly seven minutes off the clock with a 15-play, 80-yard drive capped by a Christian Biggers 2-yard touchdown run for a 17-0 advantage.
“That used to be all Dickson County ran,” Hoath said. “We’ve had to defend it a few times.
“We feel we have good personnel to run it, with (fullback) Watson Harvey, Antwan and Christian. We like it. We’ll keep working with it.”
The Cougars answered with a 41-yard Clinton Shrader touchdown run before the end of the third quarter, but a fourth-down incompletion and back-to-back turnovers prevented them from making the game any closer the rest of the way.
“Any time you can get a win, it’s exciting,” Hoath said after his team improved to 2-0. “It gets a little tougher next week, but we’ll get to preparing for Summit. We’ll have to bring our ‘A’ game defensively, we’ll have to be more efficient offensively – and we’ve got to eliminate penalties.”
After racking up 131 penalty yards on 13 flags in their 27-3 win at Spring Hill, the Lions were flagged 14 times for 115 yards Thursday.
Biggers finished with 68 yards on 25 carries for Central. Shrader ran for a game-high 125 yards on 13 carries for Dickson County.
Columbia Central 23, Dickson Co. 7
At Lindsey Nelson Stadium
DC 0 0 7 0 – 7
CC 4 6 7 6 – 23
CC – Safety; punt snap downed in end zone (10:29)
CC – Safety; snap through end zone (8:08)
CC – Nick Butler 26 interception return (1:20), kick failed
CC – Christian Biggers 2 run (5:04), Max Patton kick
DC – Clinton Shrader 41 run (1:46), Austin Morris kick
CC – Jase Hoath 8 pass from Brady McCanless (5:02), kick blocked
First downs 14 13
Rushes-yards 25-64 39-112
Passing yards 102 81
Comps-Atts-Ints 10-22-2 8-19-1
Penalties-yards 7-68 14-115
Fumbles-lost 4-2 2-0
Dickson Co. – Clinton Shrader 13-125, Demarcus Springer 1-0, Ethan Howell 4-(-12), Kaden Thomas 2-7, Drew Rymer 1-2
Columbia Central – Parker Bush 1-0, DeAndre Williams 3-4, Christian Biggers 25-68, Watson Harvey 2-1, Brady McCanless 2-0, Antwan Moore 3-25, Ryan Patterson 1-(-4), Steven Kinnard 1-12
Dickson Co. – Ethan Howell 10-22-2, 102
Columbia Central – Brady McCanless 8-19-1, 81
Dickson Co. – Enoch Terlecki 2-18, Kaden Thomas 3-63, Drew Rymer 1-6, Clinton Shrader 2-9, Adam Roth 1-1, Gil Parrish 1-5
Columbia Central – Jase Hoath 4-45, DeAndre Williams 1-7, Steven Kinnard 1-21, Adrien Hidalgo 1-(-5), Blane Davis 1-13