INDIANAPOLIS — Columbus North’s Conference Indiana game at Franklin Central started about 15 minutes late because the vehicle carrying the Bull Dogs’ football equipment blew a tire on I-65.
That wouldn’t be the only blowout of the night.
Alex Algee returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown to spark the Bull Dogs to a 45-21 rout.
“I knew coming out, we needed something to get us right on the board, all the boys weren’t very focused,” Algee said. “We had to do something to get us going, and I just did what I could.”
Algee was untouched on his sprint to the end zone.
“It’s great to start the game with momentum,” North coach Tim Bless said. “This is back-to-back weeks where we’ve scored right away. Taking the opening kickoff to the house is a lot of fun.”
Late in the first half, Algee made another big play to give the Bull Dogs (3-1, 2-0) the lead again going into halftime. After the Flashes (0-4, 0-2) had tied the game at 14 with 1:23 left in the first half, North went 63 yards in 36 seconds. Quarterback Triston Perry hit Algee in the end zone from 23 yards out with 41 seconds left in the half.
“We needed points on the board there in the second quarter to get the momentum into the locker room,” Bless said.
“We knew every time we went on the field, we had to score, and that play at the end of the half was very big,” Algee said. “It loosened the guys up even more, and that’s what we needed all night after that delay at the beginning of the game.”
At halftime, the North defense made the necessary adjustments to shut down the Franklin Central offense. The Bull Dogs limited Wilson Huber, who caught five passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, to one catch for 24 yards in the second half. Meanwhile, North limited the Flashes to 36 yards rushing in the final two quarters.
“They had gotten just enough run game going that we couldn’t completely ignore it, but what was hurting us was their throw game,” Bless said. “Their 6-5 wide receiver was a match-up nightmare, and he was making some plays on us, so ultimately in the second half, we changed coverages to try to take him out of the game.”
On offense, Mitchell Burton ran for a second-half touchdown, and Perry scored on a quarterback sneak and hit tight end Brice McDaniel — who is primarily a linebacker — for a 42-yard touchdown. Mark Salle-Tabor capped the scoring with a 28-yard field goal.
Burton carried 25 times for 163 yards, with 116 of those yards coming in the second half. Perry completed 14-of-23 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns, including a 69-yarder to Wyatt Barkes in the second quarter.
“Our O-line gave me a lot of time to throw the ball,” Perry said. “They also blocked really well for Mitchell.”
“We needed our passing game, and tonight was a testament to why you need a balanced offense because the first half, they were stymieing our running game,” Bless said.
Harley Huser intercepted a pass in the end zone to stop a first-half Franklin Central drive, and Spencer West recorded a pair of sacks to lead the North defense.