All season long, Columbus East has been a run-oriented football team that sprinkled in a few passes here and there.
On Friday night, the Olympians ran the ball and ran the ball. And then they ran some more.
Class 5A No. 2 East ran 58 times for 487 yards and seven touchdowns en route to its 77th consecutive Hoosier Hills Conference win, a 48-24 win against Bedford North Lawrence that wrapped up a 14th consecutive HHC title.
“We told our kids that we were going to come out and run the football and give our offensive line and our backs a chance to take it over,” East coach Bob Gaddis said. “We didn’t want to trick ourselves, and we didn’t need to throw it. We were gaining pretty big chunks running the football, so we just stayed with it until we had a couple penalties that made us throw the ball.”
The Olympians (8-1, 7-0) did throw the ball three times, but not until facing a second-and-24 late in the third quarter. Josh Major completed two straight passes to Cody Horner for a first down, then hit Dalton Back with his only other pass in the fourth quarter.
Jamon Hogan carried 24 times for 248 yards and four touchdowns to lead East’s rushing attack.
“We knew going in, it wasn’t going to be an easy win,” Hogan said. “We knew they were going to give us their all, and we came ready. We had a great four days of practice, and our offensive line really did good at picking it up and doing what we needed to do.”
The Stars (6-3, 4-3) actually led 7-0 after one quarter and threatened to go up by two scores. Bedford took the opening kickoff and drove for an early score on a 28-yard keeper by quarterback McCall Ray.
After East lost a fumble for only the second time this season, the Stars drove the East 27. They lined up for a 44-yard field goal, but after a delay of game penalty, Esteban Flores’ 49-yard attempt fell just short.
“They showed us a different defense than we’d seen,” Gaddis said. “They used some different blocking schemes, and they didn’t run some motion that they had run before. They had a nice plan coming in. They didn’t do what we had practiced against.”
The Olympians got on the board on a 14-yard keeper by Josh Major. Then three plays after linebacker Nash Murphy recovered a fumble at the Bedford 19, Major went in from the 5 to give East the lead for good.
The Olympians got the ball back, and on the first play, Hogan ripped off a 46-yard touchdown run for a 21-7 lead. Hogan added a 9-yard run for a score with 2:05 left in the first half.
“We just tried to withstand the big punches early, and we were able to come back,” Major said. “We have to give all the credit to the offensive line because they knew we were running the ball, but the offensive line was still able to get downfield and open up holes, and we were able to get some yards.”
Flores kicked a 42-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to cut the lead to 28-10. The Stars then recovered an onside kick to open the second half, but Jonah Wichman came up with an interception, which led to an 11-yard run by Hogan that made it 34-10.
Hogan’s fourth touchdown of the night came on a 24-yard run. After Ray ran for his second score of the night, East’s Jaedin Miller went nine yards for the Olympians final touchdown.
“I thought once we got it going, our offensive line really took the game over. We didn’t throw the football very much, but we didn’t have to. Our offensive line was dominating the game, so we gave it to our backs.”