By Kenneth Schott
GALLATIN – It took more than three quarters for Columbia Central to put a scoring drive together Friday night.
The Lions scored their first touchdown with 4:34 remaining in the fourth quarter, forcing a tie in their Class 5A opening-round playoff game against host Gallatin.
Central then scored two touchdowns in three overtime periods to defeat the Green Wave 21-14.
“They were big up front and they have a lot of athletes,” said Columbia Central coach Jason Hoath. “We made adjustments at halftime. We said (to the players) to keep going and try to win the battles up front.”
In the first three quarters, the Lions (6-5) had two three-and-out possessions and two more possessions in which they picked up a single first down before having to punt.
The Lions did have two drives where they could have put points on the board.
On Central’s first possession, the Lions drove the ball in seven plays from their 45-yard line to the Gallatin 5 and had it first-and-goal at that point. But the next play resulted in a turnover, a fumble which Green Wave recovered to squelch the scoring opportunity.
After the Green Wave scored its only touchdown of regulation, a 14-yard run by Dee Sullivan with 2:15 left in the first quarter, the ensuing kickoff return gave the Lions great field possession at the Gallatin 37. The Lions picked up a first down and moved it to the 22, and then attempted a 37-yard field goal, but it failed.
Central’s first scoring drive started with 7:53 left in the fourth quarter, after a Gallatin punt. The Lions went from their own 37 to the end zone on eight plays, with Jase Hoath catching a 9-yard pass from Brady McCanless.
“The players stepped up and made plays,” the coach said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our effort. It was probably the best we’ve played all year.”
After swapping punts, Gallatin (4-7) took over at its 39 with 1:20 remaining. The hosts drove to the Columbia Central 29, setting up a 44-yard field goal attempt for the win. However, Ashton Kelley missed as the horn sounded, and the game went to overtime.
Neither team scored in the first overtime. The Lions threw an interception in the end zone on third down play. The Green Wave attempted three running plays and then sent Kelley on for a 25-yard field goal, but the snap was mishandled and the kick was never attempted.
“It didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but the defense stepped up and made a stop,” said Hoath.
In the second overtime, both teams scored. The Green Wave had possession first, and Sullivan scored his second touchdown of the game on a 7-yard run.
It only took the Lions one play to tie the game again. McCanless connected with tight end Blane Davis on a 10-yard pass to make it 14-14.
“It was a prayer answered,” said Davis. “Our guys played with a lot of heart in this game. I think we can move on much further.”
Columbia took possession first for the third overtime. The first play was a touchdown pass from McCanless to Steven Kinnard, but the Lions were whistled for illegal procedure on the play, which wiped the play off the board and moved the Lions back five yards.
But it was no problem. McCanless threw another pass to Kinnard to get the ball down to the 1.
The Lions then hurried to the line and quick snapped it to McCanless for the quarterback sneak and the touchdown which made the difference in the win.
Gallatin’s first play of the third overtime was a disaster. The snap went past quarterback Mason Stanley and the Green Wave lost 10 yards on the play. Two running plays and a pass attempt didn’t get them anywhere closer and the Lions had the victory.
Columbia Central 21, Gallatin 14 (3 OT)
at Calvin Short Field
C 0 0 0 7 0 7 7 — 21
G 7 0 0 0 0 7 0 — 14
|G — Dee Sullivan 14 run (2:15), Ashton Kelley kick|
|C — Jase Hoath 9 pass from Brady McCanless (4:34), Max Patton kick|
|G — Sullivan 7 run, Kelley kick|
|C — Blane Davis 10 pass from McCanless, Patton kick|
|C — McCanless 1 run, Patton kick|
|Columbia Central — Justin Buchmann 17-81, Steven Kinnard 1-5, Brady McCanless 9-(-16)|
|Gallatin — Mason Stanley 19-113, Traevon Gentry 19-88, Dee Sullivan 4-41, Montez Banks 6-8|
|Columbia Central — Brady McCanless 16-27-1 190|
|Gallatin — Mason Stanley 6-10-0 51, Dee Sullivan 0-1-0 0|
|Columbia Central — Steven Kinnard 5-84, Adrien Hidalgo 3-41, Blane Davis 3-28, Justin Buchmann 2-20, Evan Sandman 2-9, Jase Hoath 1-9|
|Gallatin — Traevon Gentry 2-21, Daniel Phillips 2-14, Luke Cook 1-11, Montez Banks 1-5|