By Chris Yow
With its playoff hopes hanging in the balance, Columbia Academy overcame early setbacks with a potent rushing attack and opportunistic defense to earn a 43-21 win over Tipton-Rosemark on Friday.
The Bulldogs (1-5, 1-4 DII-A West) suffered turnovers on each of their first two possessions before settling in and taking control of the contest. A fumble on the Bulldogs’ first play from scrimmage and a Bryant Beranek interception on the next drive didn’t discourage Columbia Academy.
After giving up a touchdown on the Rebels’ opening drive, the Bulldogs’ defense forced punts on the next five Tipton-Rosemark possessions.
Trailing 8-0 at the end of the first quarter, Columbia Academy put together a 6-play, 64-yard drive that included a 20-yard scamper from Devon Del Carmen all the way inside the 10-yard-line that set up a Beranek rushing score. The Bulldogs evened the score with a Max Ballard 2-point play.
Del Carmen led the Bulldogs with 94 yards on just seven carries in the game, but fumbled twice. The junior running back praised the offensive line, but was also critical of himself for the two fumbles.
“I wouldn’t have gotten 94 yards without the line up front. They played great tonight,” he said. “But I know I can’t fumble like I did tonight if our team is going to win, so I have to do a better job with that.”
Columbia Academy coach Charlie Lansdell had similar comments on Del Carmen’s performance.
“We know Devon can run the ball well, and we were pleased with a him having several big runs tonight, but we have to clean up the turnovers,” he said.
Columbia Academy scored 35 points before the Rebels could get back on the board, scoring late against a group of young Bulldogs late in the game.
Beranek hit Collins Malone with a perfect deep ball that Malone hauled in with his fingertips for a score to give the home team a 15-8 lead going into halftime. Malone had 95 yards on three catches in the game.
Coming out of halftime, Del Carmen ran twice for 42 yards on the first two plays for Columbia Academy, and was just about to find pay dirt on a third run when a Rebel defender jarred the ball loose with a hit, and Tipton-Rosemark recovered the ball for a touchback.
The Bulldog defense was tough, however, keeping the Rebels behind the chains, and forcing another punt. Beranek was picked off on the ensuing drive in the end zone, but on the next play from scrimmage, Beranek stripped Rebel quarterback Payne Fullen and Max Ballard scooped it up and ran 14 yards for a touchdown.
Several youngsters got in on the action in the game, after the Bulldogs took a commanding 22-8 lead into the fourth quarter, including eighth-grader Monte Baldwin. Baldwin scored on a 7-yard run on just his second touch of his varsity career.
“It felt really cool,” Baldwin said of his emotions following the touchdown run.
Columbia Academy may have punched its ticket to the state playoffs on Friday, and with a win over Fayette Academy in two weeks, could find itself as the No. 6-seed in the region.
“Making the playoffs was the goal from day one,” Lansdell said. “It was never about our regular-season record. Our goal was to get to the playoffs and be playing our best ball.”
Columbia Acad. 43, Tipton-Rosemark 21
At J.J. Savage Field
TR 8 0 0 13 — 21
CA 0 15 7 21 — 43
|TR – Payne Fullen 2 run (4:31), kick blocked|
|TR – Safety (3:06)|
|CA – Bryant Beranek 8 run (7:57), Max Ballard run|
|CA – Collins Malone 33 pass from Beranek (4:19), Will Garrison kick|
|CA – Malone 14 fumble return (4:57), Garrison kick|
|CA – Canon Lansdell 15 run (9:09), Garrison kick|
|CA – Monte Baldwin 8 run (6:34), run failed|
|TR – Jalen Hurt 34 run (5:32), kick failed|
|CA – Harrison Diles 7 run (2:04), Garrison kick|
|TR – Aidan Sprenkle 93 kick return (1:54), Nate Washington kick|
|Columbia Acad. – Devon Del Carmen 7-94, Monte Baldwin 5-50, Camren Horton 2-37, Nathan Thomas 7-35, Bryant Beranek 7-27, Nick Brown 1-21, Max Ballard 7-19, Harrison Diles 2-16, Canon Lansdell 1-15, Chris Modeste 2-12, Reid McGrath 1-(-4)|
|Tipton-Rosemark – Payne Fullen 18-34, Jalen Hurt 1-34, Zakris Vinson 7-8, Aiden Sprenkle 4-6|
|Columbia Acad. – Bryant Beranek 3-7-1 95, Nick Brown 1-1-0 22|
|Tipton-Rosemark – Payne Fullen 9-15-1 105, Zakris Vinson 0-1-0|
|Columbia Acad. – Collins Malone 3-95, Samuel Nowotny 1-22|
|Tipton-Rosemark – Jalen Hurt 2-56, Ellis Fullen 3-19, Tucker James 2-13, Aidan Sprenkle 1-11, Sam Cannon 1-5|