With both Columbus East and Whiteland lighting up the scoreboard in a frenzy, it was a matter of which team would stop the other first.
It happened to be the Olympians.
In the fourth quarter, Ethan Summa blocked a field goal that led to a Jamon Hogan touchdown and a key interception by T.C. O’Neal late in the fourth quarter that put the game away for good to make East sectional football champions with a 56-31 victory.
The Class 5A No. 4 Olympians move on to face Zionsville, which defeated Plainfield 33-28, in the regional at Zionsville. This is East’s first sectional championship in 5A.
“We will enjoy this win for a while,” East coach Bob Gaddis said. “We’ll get back to work quickly, though, and come back and get ready to play next week.”
East quarterback Josh Major threw two interceptions on his first two throws. He settled in, though, and got the Olympians on the scoreboard with a 2-yard run to tie the game at 7-7.
The Olympians got a break when the Warriors bobbled up the ball on a pitch play, and Charlie Burton was there to recover the ball. Following the fumble, East capped off the drive when Major added a second rushing touchdown nine yards out for a 14-7 lead.
Whiteland countered in a hurry when Djimmon Ogega returned the kickoff 89 yards to even the game at 14-14.
East responded right back when Hogan found room on the right hand side of the field. He kicked it into high gear and outran the defense for a 42-yard score to put the Olympians back on top 21-14.
The Warriors came right back and answered again with the run game. Ryan Hammond got some nice blocking and finished off a 53-yard run to tie the game.
Whiteland added a field goal to go ahead 24-21. When the Warriors took possession again, quarterback Jace Carpenter had a miscommunication with his receiver, and Jonah Wichman returned the interception 26 yards to give East a 28-24 lead at halftime.
The Warriors scored first in the second half with a 22-yard run from Hammond to go ahead 31-28.
On the ensuing possession, Hogan took over. His first carry in the second half went for a 79-yard touchdown to put the Olympians back in front 35-31.
Hogan added two more touchdowns runs, and the East defense and special teams stepped up and made the big plays necessary to secure the win.
“We showed a lot of resiliency,” Gaddis said. “Our kids showed a lot of good character and class. Coming into it, we thought it would be a back and forth battle and our guys kept their composure and took care of the ball in the second half.”
Hammond and Hogan both went over 200 yards rushing for the game. Major added 104 rushing yards for East.