Tim Bless couldn’t have asked for a much better Friday night.
First, his Columbus North team rolled to a 48-0 halftime lead against Perry Meridan.
Then at halftime, Bless’ daughter Gretchen was named homecoming queen.
The Bull Dogs then put away the Falcons in the second half for a 55-7 Conference Indiana victory to give Bless his 119th coaching victory at North, surpassing Max Andress for the school’s all-time wins record.
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“That’s very humbling,” Bless said. “It makes you think about all the great kids you’ve coached over the years and all the great coaches that have been a part of our staff over the years. Joining the rarefied air of coach Andress is something that’s very special.”
The Bull Dogs (6-1, 4-1) left no doubt from the beginning against the winless Falcons (0-7, 0-5). Trenton Kelley threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, and Cortez Bandy scored four of his five touchdowns before the break.
“We came out with a great mindset tonight,” Kelley said. “We came out and just jumped on them for the beginning, and that’s part of our preparation for this week. We were very focused, and I think the results showed in the first half.”
North wasted little time getting on the board. The Bull Dogs took the opening kickoff and drive 62 yards in four plays, with Bandy taking it in from the 1.
After stopping Perry Meridian on downs, North needed only one play to score it’s second touchdown. Kelley hit Jaylen Flemmons for 63 yards and a 14-0 lead.
The Bull Dogs’ next drive, they faced a fourth-and-8, but Kelley hit Bandy with a swing pass that turned into a 25-yard score. Kelley hit Flemmons again for 35 yards, and North led 28-0 after one quarter.
Bandy opened the second quarter with a 17-yard touchdown run. Perry Meridian then put together its only drive of the half, but the Bull Dogs’ Jalen Paswater intercepted a pass and returned it 73 yards for a score.
On the Falcons’ next play, North’s J.D. Harris intercepted a pass and returned it to the 15. Two plays later, Bandy took it in from the 4 to make it 48-0.
“I’m very proud of the way we came out,” Bless said. “We talked all week about long about the fact that we had to start strong against Perry Meridian because their record wasn’t successful, but they have good athletes on the field. We didn’t want to allow them to get have any kind of traction, and that’s exactly what happened. Our offense came out and was decisive in that opening drive. Defense played dominant football early and got them off the field to give the ball back to the offense. Our offense was so explosive tonight, it was fun to watch.”
The Falcons got on the board midway through the third quarter when Jalen Lee picked off a Kelley pass and returned it 25 yards for a score. The Bull Dogs answered with a drive that culminated in Bandy’s fifth touchdown of the night, a 1-yard run.
Bandy finished with 82 yards on 20 carries and the one catch for the 25-yard score.
“It was pretty exciting,” Bandy said. “The five touchdowns were really good, but I was hoping for more yards than I got. We started off strong, and it will be good for us to continue this for the rest of the season.”
Kelley finished 9 of 14 for 281 yards. Flemmons caught five passes for 188 yards.