Turnovers key in Lions’ loss at Shelbyville

By Chris Yow

SHELBYVILLE — An emotionally charged Shelbyville team came out of the locker room on a mission Friday night, scoring on four consecutive possessions and cruising to a 30-14 Region 5-5A win over Columbia Central.

Central was without a number of players due to injury and COVID-19 contact tracing, and coach Jason Hoath said replacing those players was a difficult task, especially senior lineman Carter Szydlowski.

“We had several players out tonight up front on both sides of the ball, and it hurt our preparation this week,” he said. “Not having (Szydlowski) here the last couple of weeks has hurt us; he’s probably the best football player on our team.”

After finding out on Thursday from the TSSAA that it would not be eligible for the upcoming state playoffs as a result of their involvement in an on-field altercation with Week 10 , the Golden Eagles took to the field in their final game of the season with a purpose. Following a long kick return to open the game, Shelbyville wasted little time getting on the board, going 29 yards on six plays to pay dirt with a Demarcus Smalls touchdown run to cap the drive. Quarterback Kade Cunningham ran for a two-point conversion from the swinging gate formation to give his team an early 8-0 lead.

Columbia Central drove the length of the field on the ensuing drive, getting to the Golden Eagles’ 7-yard-line before throwing an interception on first-and-goal. 

“We had a really good drive going, and unfortunately we couldn’t come up with points there,” Hoath said. “We handed them a few, and we can’t do that. We have to clean up some mistakes.”

Cunningham then led his team 80 yards on six plays to extend the lead, ending with an Elijah Malone 3-yard touchdown run. Cunningham converted another two points on the same play as the first conversion giving his team a 16-0 lead going into the second quarter.

On the Lions’ ensuing drive, quarterback Brady McCanless attempted a toss to running back Christian Biggers, but threw the ball well into the backfield and fell on it as time expired in the quarter. The fumble brought up a third-and-long situation for Columbia Central to start the second quarter, and on the first play of the second stanza, McCanless dumped a pass off to Justin Buchmann, who then raced 68 yards for a touchdown. The Max Patton extra point pulled the Lions to within 16-7 early in the second quarter.

Buchmann finished the night with four catches for 137 yards and a touchdown. He also ran once for 17 yards in the game.

Shelbyville, however, had no trouble continuing their dominance on offense. The Golden Eagles marched steadily down the field and Cunningham found Gavin Donegan for the first of two touchdown passes for the duo in the game. Following a fumble, the two hooked up to extend the advantage to 30-7 going into halftime.

“We knew we would struggle up front tonight, and we’d hoped they weren’t as bad as they were, but Shelbyville played well,” Hoath said. “(Cunningham) threw some really good balls to their receivers who made the catches they had to make.”

Cunningham finished a nearly perfect 12-of-13, missing on his final pass attempt, for 154 yards and the two scores. He also ran for 57 yards on 11 carries.

Columbia will advance to the state playoffs and is currently the No. 3 seed from Region 5-5A, set to travel to Gallatin, the second seed from Region 6-5A. Following the game, it was confirmed that Shelbyville is appealing its postseason ban to the TSSAA Board of Control. The appeal is expected to be heard Monday. Prior to the ban, Shelbyville had earned the No. 2 seed.

Shelbyville Central 30, Columbia Central 14
At Shelbyville

CC 0 7 0 7 14
SC 16 14 0 0 30

First Downs413
Passing Yards169154
Scoring Summary
SC — Demarcus Smalls 2 run (8:46) Kade Cunningham run
SC — Elijah Malone 3 run (1:00) Cunningham run
CC — Justin Buchmann 68 pass from Brady McCanless (11:47) Max Patton kick
SC — Gavin Donegan 32 pass from Cunningham (9:23) Harry Canter kick
SC — Donegan 3 pass from Cunningham (3:46) Canter kick
Columbia Central — Christian Biggers 13-23, Justin Buchmann 1-17, Brady McCanless 5-(-13)
Shelbyville Central — Kade Cunningham 11-57, Demarcus Smalls 9-50, Elijah Malone 5-31, Cayden Puckett 2-10, Labuan Young 2-4, Dyson Collins 1-6, Juan Gomez 1-2, Collins Cates 1-(-2), Micah Spence 1-1, Naiijah Rowe 1-(-2), Theo Washington 1-4
Columbia Central — Brady McCanless 8-14-2 169
Shelbyville Central — Kade Cunningham 12-13-0 154
Columbia Central — Justin Buchmann 4-127, Steven Kinnard 3-35, Evan Sandman 1-14, Blane Davis 1-9, Adrian Hidalgo 1-9
Shelbyville Central — Gavin Donegan 5-88, Elijah Malone 5-49, Dyson Collins 3-35, Cayden Puckett 1-10

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