With a steady rain falling, most people probably expected Columbus North to give Bloomington North a steady dose of its ground game Friday night.
The Bull Dogs, however, came out firing.
Trenton Kelley threw to a wide-open Jaylen Flemmons for a 69-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. The pair would hook up twice more for scores, and Columbus North rolled to a 49-0 victory in the Conference Indiana opener.
“We wanted to set the tempo early,” said Columbus North coach Tim Bless, who was coaching against his brother, Scott. “We were going into the wind, so I thought maybe we would catch them off guard. Going into the wind, probably they thought we’d go a little more ball possession, so we took a shot early, and what a great way to start the game.”
The Bull Dogs (3-0, 1-0) didn’t let up.
After Cortez Bandy ran for 10 yards for a touchdown in the final minute of the first quarter, Kelley hit Flemmons for two more scores late in the first half. Like their first connection, these came on one-play drives.
“I feel like we always have the chance to pull off a big play, no matter where it is in the game,” Flemmons said. “Our offensive coordinator (Jason Perry) find that big play that we could use in that situation and uses it to our advantage.”
Both of the second-quarter scores were set up by J.D. Harris interceptions. The first interception came at the Cougars 41, and he returned it to the 32.
Harris’ second pick came at the Bloomington North 36. He returned it to the 26 to set up the final Kelley-to-Flemmons scoring pass.
“We have a big-play offense with striking ability at any time,” Kelley said. “Our offensive linemen gave me time, and our wide receivers made big plays down the field.”
The Cougars (1-2, 0-1) were driving deep in Bull Dogs territory midway through the third quarter. But Damon Hunter Jr. intercepted a pass at his own 2 and returned it 96 yards to the Bloomington North 2. Bandy then added a second rushing touchdown, a 5-yard jaunt.
Backup running backs Michael Johnson and Landon Robbins added touchdown runs in the fourth quarter. Johnson carried 16 times for a career-high 91 yards.
Kelley finished 10 of 16 passing, with all 190 of his yards coming in the first half. Flemmons caught four passes for 137 yards.
“Luckily, we have a great running game, and it takes a lot of pressure off of me,” Kelley said. “No matter what the weather, we just go out and play our game plan.”
Meanwhile, the Columbus North defense came up big, recording its second shutout in three games. The Bull Dogs held the Cougars to 58 yards of total offense.
On the ground, Columbus North held Bloomington North to minus-19 yards rushing on 27 carries.
“I’m very pleased with our defensive effort,” Bless said. “The three-and-outs are big, the opportunity to get turnovers is big, and I just like how we had 11 (players) to the ball on a lot of snaps. They had a really big offensive line, and we have a very quick defensive line, and I thought our quickness prevailed tonight.”