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NEW ALBANY — It took the Columbus East offense a quarter to unwind from a long bus ride Friday night.
Then, after a long halftime, it took the Olympians another quarter to unwind again.
Fortunately for East, it had plenty of offense in the second and fourth quarters and a defense that was a constant all night. That was more than enough for the Class 4A No. 1 Olympians to claim a 31-7 Hoosier Hills Conference win at New Albany.
“I thought they had a nice plan against us defensively,” East coach Bob Gaddis said. “I thought our defense stepped up and made a lot of plays. It was really the type of game that I thought it might be, where we have to kind of adjust to the speed of the game that they gave us.”
The Olympians (5-0, 3-0) held the Bulldogs (3-2, 2-1) to two first downs and 17 yards of offense in the first half. New Albany’s lone score came with 4:36 left in the game.
“We got ourselves lined up, did what we game-planned to do,” East senior safety Brian Wichman said. “We watched a lot of film. We took a lot of responsibility on this week to see what they were doing. We were well prepared, and then we executed. We were fired up, too, and that helped a lot.”
It was a defensive play that got the Olympians on the scoreboard late in the first quarter. Linebacker Logan Galarno led a swarm of East defenders to tackle Bulldogs’ tailback Tuwan Payton in the end zone for a safety.
The offense got things going in the second quarter. Wide receiver Jason Kimmet took a lateral and threw an option pass to Cody Hempstead for 44 yards to the New Albany 5. That set up quarterback Alex Cowan’s 1-yard plunge for a touchdown and a 9-0 lead.
Late in the first half, Cowan hit tight end Jared Whiteside for 35 yards to set up back-to-back 16-yard runs, the second of which resulted in a touchdown. Cowan passed to Christian Wichman for the 2-point conversion, and the Olympians led 17-0 at halftime.
“We just came out in the second and the fourth quarter, and we had to match their intensity and play off the defensive energy that they provided for us,” Cowan said. “Our offensive line made good holes for us to run and protected me pretty well.”
The Bulldogs threatened on their first drive of the second half, when they took it from their own 20 to the East 8. But on first-and-goal, Dalton Bateman sacked Michael Diehl and recovered a fumble.
East went up 24-0 early in the fourth quarter after Cowan hit tailback Markell Jones with a 9-yard screen pass.
Then, three plays after recovering a fumble on the kickoff, Brian Wichman took the snap in the Wildcat formation and sprinted 43 yards for another touchdown.
“We ran it once or twice last week, but I just don’t think people have seen it out of us, so it was a good play to help our offense out,” Brian Wichman said.
Jones, who sat out last week’s 74-7 win over Jennings County with a high ankle sprain, finished with 145 yards on 17 carries. Cowan was 4-of-11 passing for 64 yards.
“I thought we won the battle up front,” Gaddis said. “I thought our kids ran the football very well.”
The Olympians forced three turnovers, including an interception by Kaleb Horn.
“Coach (Eddie) Vogel does a great job of scouting the opponent,” Gaddis said. “I think we came in with a very solid plan. I think our kids had it by Thursday night what we wanted to do and what we had to stop, and they executed it very well. I thought we tackled very crisp until the last drive of the game.”
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