Big first half sends Olympians to blowout win

A quick glance at the final score doesn’t do justice to how much Columbus East’s starters dominated New Albany on the football field Friday night.

The Olympians reached the end zone all seven times the starting offense was on the field, and the defense shut out the Bulldogs in the first half on their way to a 54-20 Hoosier Hills Conference victory.

“We were executing our plays well,” said sophomore Josh Major, who completed 10 of 11 passes for 133 yards and three touchdowns and carried the ball eight times for 115 yards and another score. “The line was blocking, and everyone was making plays. Offense is definitely clicking right now, and we have a lot of confidence moving forward.”

Most of Major’s yards came in the first half, when East (5-0, 3-0), ranked No. 3 in Class 4A, built a 41-0 lead.

“I thought we played well on both sides of the ball in the first half,” East coach Bob Gaddis said. “I told our guys that that was our best first half, and it was a result of a great week of preparation.”

Major put the Olympians on the board with a 55-yard keeper less than two minutes into the game. After East stopped New Albany on fourth-and-1 at it the Bulldogs’ 15, O’Neal went in from the 1. Major then hit Cam Wilson for a 22-yard score, and the Olympians led 20-0 after one quarter.

Steven O’Neal scampered 32 yards for a touchdown to open the second quarter. Major found tight end Rhett Myers for a three-yard strike. Then in the 2-minute drill, Major hit the other tight end, Tyler Thomas, for an 11-yard touchdown to make it 41-0 with 29 seconds left in the half.

New Albany’s first touchdown came after East appeared to have the Bulldogs stopped on fourth-and-goal inside the 5. But Rondale Moore fumbled and Derek Griffin recovered in the end zone.

Backup running backs Jamon Hogan and Ben Clancy scored on four-yard runs in the second half to complete the Olympians’ scoring.

“They’re an explosive offensive team, which they showed in the second half, but I was really happy with our preparation this week, and I thought we came out and executed the first half,” Gaddis said. “It’s hard to keep your intensity up, but we did a lot of good things tonight.”

O’Neal, who missed last week’s win against Jennings County with a knee injury, finished with 100 yards on 13 carries — all in the first half.

“That was the best part of my week — being able to come back out and play tonight,” O’Neal said. “Our linemen were blocking perfect, and our running backs were hitting holes like we should. We had a great week of preparation and just came out and played like we should.”

East finished with 570 yards of offense, including 355 in the first half. The Olympians had 437 on the ground, including 340 in the first half.

“We were very efficient,” Gaddis said. “We mixed the run and the pass. A lot of different guys touched it, so that was good to see.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.