Shaquille Ash and Taylor Summa weren’t going to let someone else honor them on Columbus North’s Senior Night.
The two Bull Dogs seniors made a handful of outstanding plays in their final regular season home game as North cruised to a 42-14 victory over visiting Southport.
Ash, North’s all-star quality middle linebacker, scored the first touchdown of his career when he intercepted a pass by Cardinals quarterback Robert Webb and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
“I think our defense was on point all night,” said Ash, who made several big tackles roaming sideline to sideline. “We shut down their run and made them pass, and that was a lot of fun.”
Earlier in the second quarter, Summa returned an interception 71 yards for a touchdown. He also collected a 28-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Michael Vogel in the fourth quarter.
Summa had dropped a long pass from Vogel earlier in the game, so he made sure he had the touchdown pass tucked away as he crossed into the right corner of the end zone in the fourth quarter to kill any Cardinals’ hopes of a rally.
“Michael threw a perfect ball,” he said. “I made sure I caught that one.”
The Cardinals, who dropped to 5-4 overall and 4-3 in Conference Indiana, had been one of the league’s top teams. With the win, North moved to 4-5 overall and 4-3 in league play.
“Everyone played their best,” Summa said. “That was our best night by far.”
Ash and Summa weren’t the only seniors to have big nights. Tailback Jamaal Halliburton opened the scoring in the first quarter for North with a 50-yard touchdown burst through the middle of the line. He finished with 90 yards rushing even though he couldn’t play much of the second half due to his injured right ankle.
Senior defensive end Thomas Shoaf made some crunching tackles on defense as the Cardinals never were able to finish drives.
It added up to the 100th coaching victory of coach Tim Bless’ 15-year career.
“No question, to do that at home and to do it on Senior Night was special,” said Bless, who is 100-68. “It makes me think of all the kids who have been part of this.”
The Bull Dogs presented Bless with the game ball for his milestone.
“We’re playing our best football at the most important time of year,” Bless told his team, which will host Whiteland in the opening game of sectional play next Friday. “We have (momentum) on our back. We weathered the storm, and we are rallying at a good time.”
Although Vogel threw for only 90 yards, he made several key throws, including a 42-yard bomb to Toriano Jackson on his team’s first play from scrimmage. The Bull Dogs also got some key third-down carries from sophomore Josh Holt, who ran the Wildcat offense at times and finished with 36 yards rushing on five carries.
North senior defensive tackle Solomon Knight was a force inside and kept the Cardinals from having any success running early in the game. Eventually, Southport found its running game, but only because North went into more of a prevent defense. Southport tailback Christian Perry finished with 150 yards rushing on 21 carries.