Columbus used big plays to maintain possession of the F&C Cup on Friday night against Fremont High.
The Discoverers used an 90-yard interception return for a touchdown by Joey Braasch early in the fourth quarter to put the finishing touches on a 33-13 win at Heedum Field.
“It was good to win (the cup) last year and to win it again is amazing,” said junior Garrett Esch, who rushed for 165 yards on 19 carries.
Fremont coach Seth McClain said the Discoverers big three of Braasch, Esch and receiver Landon Thompson hurt the Tigers.
“They have talent and we were worried all week about that,” he said. “We knew they had the Esch kid, Braasch and No. 10 (Thompson). Once they got out on the edge, we didn’t tackle very well and we didn’t wrap up at times. We talked that we have to fix that. Plain and simple we have to tackle better. We had guys in the backfield a couple of times and we let them go.”
Columbus continually hurt the Tigers with a sweep that featured Esch. It was his 36-yard reception, however, from quarterback CJ Fleeman that set up Esch’s 4-yard TD run with 7:48 left in the first quarter.
Fremont tried to answer Esch’s TD. Quarterback Jack Cooper connected on three passes, including a 38-yarder to Massimo Lojing, to move the Tigers deep in Columbus territory. A FHS 33-yard field goal, however, failed.
On their second series after the missed field goal, the Discoverers struck again. Esch did most of the damage on a 10-play, 77-yard march. His 24-yard run with 7:27 left in the half put CHS up 13-0.
The Tigers answered. The running of Micah Moore and Carter Newill notched a pair of first downs before Cooper threw a perfect pass to junior Dawson Glause that resulted in a 43-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion run failed leaving Columbus up 13-6 with 5:13 left in the half.
A 37-yard reception by Thompson was the key play on the Discoverers’ next series that end with a 3-yard TD run by Braasch.
“Their big-time players stepped up and made plays,” McClain said. “They are not dominant up front, but they do a good enough job and get bodies on bodies. They get their playmakers in space. Once they are out there, they are tough because they have speed.”
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Needing a quick score, the Tigers got it. On third-and-three, a perfectly executed screen from Cooper to Moore resulted in a 42-yard gain. Cooper then connected with senior Jon Kment for a 21-yard touchdown pass. Jace Lamkins conversion made it 19-13 with :58 left.
Columbus missed a 48-yard field goal in the closing second of the first half to keep it a six-point game.
“We talked at halftime with the kids and we said the team that keeps their composure, goes out and executes their game ... is going to pull away and that’s exactly what happened,” Columbus coach Craig Williams said. “We played a clean second half. Our kids were physical on both sides of the ball and our defense forced a few big turnovers. That gave us the opportunity to pull away.”
Esch’s 45-yard run was the key in a five-play, 76-yard third-quarter march that culminated with Braasch’s 7-yard touchdown run with 4:54 left in the period.
Moore’s running helped the Tigers move down to the Columbus 21, but a Cooper pass bounced off a Fremont player into Braasch’s hands and he took it the distance to close the scoring with 10:43 left in the game.
“Our offense moved the ball well, but you have to punch it in,” McClain said. “When you throw an interception to their best player that just kills you. There was bounce right off the pads and that stuff happens, but give him (Braasch) credit. He is a phenomenal player.”
Fremont accumulated 401 yards in total offense. Cooper was 13 of 21 passing for 256 yards, but was intercepted twice. Moore rushed 21 times for 123 yards and caught three balls for 45 yards. Glause hauled in two catches for 57 yards while sophomore Drew Sellon had a pair of receptions for 53 yards.
Linebackers Colton McCurdy and Newill led the defense. McCurdy had 11 tackles, including six solo stops while Newill had nine tackles.
The loss drops the Tigers to 3-1 heading into Friday night’s homecoming game against Millard North.
“We just have to stay together and don’t splinter off,” McClain said. “Our goals are still intact. We’ve shown we can do outstanding things. We just have to put it all together.”