By Maurice Patton
Charlie Lansdell didn’t have a great look at Columbia Academy’s performance Friday night against visiting Davidson Academy.
That may have been fitting, since the Bulldogs didn’t look great in the 36-0 region loss to the two-time defending Division II-A state titlists.
Quarantined earlier this week after coming into contact with an individual testing positive for COVID-19, Lansdell watched the matchup from his Chevrolet Suburban, parked near the corner of the west end zone of J.J. Savage Field.
“That was the first time in 22 years of coaching that I hadn’t been on the sidelines,” Lansdell said by phone following CA’s third loss in three games. “It’s a lot different. It’s something I didn’t enjoy.”
Neither he nor the Bulldogs enjoyed their start Friday. After linebacker Max Ballard grabbed a deflected pass on the second snap of the game to give the hosts prime field position at the Davidson 22-yard line, the offense fumbled it back three plays later.
With the reprieve, Davidson responded with a seven-play, 81-yard scoring drive. Griffin Swinea broke loose for the final 20 yards to put the Bears up midway through the opening quarter.
Columbia Academy’s next possession ended on an intercepted swing pass, as Rashad Owens picked off Bryant Beranek and returned the interception 34 yards to paydirt.
“We knew we’d have to play a really good game in order to win,” CA acting coach Seth Anderson said. “We shot ourselves in the foot often early, with the fumbled snap and then the pick-6. We had a chance to drive down and tie it.
“That’s a big momentum shifter right there.”
Trailing by two scores at the end of the opening period, the Bulldogs aided Davidson further with a fumble to set the visitors up 11 yards from the goal line. Jared Vetetoe threw the first of his three scoring passes two plays later, an 11-yarder to Kelvi Rice, and after the next CA drive fizzled at the Davidson 26, a Swinea 60-yard run led to a Vetetoe 23-yard strike over the middle to Brown Norton and a 29-0 halftime lead.
“I love what this defense is doing,” Davidson coach Jonathan Quinn said after his top-ranked Bears improved to 3-0 (2-0) with their third consecutive shutout. “(Defensive coordinator) Ron Lambert is doing an outstanding job getting those guys highly motivated and putting them in position to be successful. It’s fun and exciting to watch.
“Our defense is putting us in great position to have short fields. It’s a lot easier to put points on the board. Our offense is still trying to find its groove in that sense, but we’re still able to take advantage of what the defense gives us.”
Columbia Academy put together a promising drive to open the second half, moving from its own 25 to the Davidson 20, but a false start on fourth-and-1 was followed by a sack, and the visitors went the other way for their final score of the night – a Vetetoe 29-yard pass to Peyton Oliphant.
“Defensively, they have a lot of speed,” Anderson said. “They’re very aggressive. So our game plan was to run it at them, take advantage of them being overly aggressive and hit some lanes. But when you fall down three scores, it makes you have to throw it and they put some pressure on us.”
The running game never really got started for CA, as the Bulldogs finished with just 79 yards on 39 attempts – though that total includes five sacks, for minus-37 yards.
Swinea rushed for 175 yards on just nine carries for Davidson.
With three turnovers, Columbia Academy has 10 on the season – a number that jumps out at Lansdell as he turns his attention toward a Week 5 trip to Nashville Christian in region play.
“We continue to have difficulty taking care of the football,” he said. “We can’t help teams out. We’ve got to figure how to eliminate those mistakes, not beat ourselves.
“I think we’ll be able to fix that and still have a successful season. We’re not ready to throw in the towel just yet.”
Davidson Acad. 36, Columbia Acad. 0
at J.J. Savage Field
D 14 15 7 0 – 36
C 0 0 0 0 – 0
D – Griffin Swinea 20 run (6:36), Cole Laird kick
D – Rashad Owens 34 interception return (4:43), Laird kick
D – Kelvi Rice 11 pass from Jared Vetetoe (10:52), Swinea run
D – Brown Norton 23 pass from Vetetoe (4:06), Laird kick
D – Peyton Oliphant 29 pass from Vetetoe (4:36), Laird kick
First downs 13 11
Rushes-yards 17-190 39-79
Passing yards 128 62
Comps-Atts-Ints 8-16-1 5-13-1
Penalties-yards 8-55 5-46
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-2
Davidson Acad. – Cole Laird 4-1, Canaan Russell 1-7, Griffin Swinea 9-175, Jared Vetetoe 2-(-4), Julius Orr 1-11
Columbia Acad. – Chris Modeste 1-21, Franklin Walker 13-46, Max Ballard 14-27, Devon Del Carmen 3-9, Bryant Beranek 11-(-26), Harrison Diles 1-5, Nathan Thomas 1-(-5)
Davidson Acad. – Chris Phillips 1-2-0, 5, Jared Vetetoe 7-14-1, 123
Columbia Acad. – Franklin Walker 1-1-0, 17, Bryant Beranek 4-12-1, 45
Davidson Acad. – Brown Norton 2-28, Peyton Oliphant 2-30, A.J. Quinn 2-60, Kelvi Rice 1-11 Julius Orr 1-(-1)
Columbia Acad. – Collins Malone 5-62