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IN the aftermath of a terrific 49-42 Conference Indiana victory against visiting Perry Meridian, one of the fans congratulated Columbus North tailback Josh Holt for being a “beast.”
Indeed, Holt fit the description with a 42 carry, 298-yard rushing night with five touchdowns.
But as North head coach Tim Bless was about to address his team, he made one thing very clear.
“O-line ... you’re a beast baby!”
Indeed, the Columbus North offensive line of offensive tackles Trevor Shutters, Tyler Combs, guards Tyson Clark and Cam Miller and center Ezra Followell was spectacular all night.
Tight end Drew Schoeberl had a terrific night of blocking as well, and North (3-4 overall, 3-2 Conference Indiana) also got some tremendous blocks from an unexpected source.
Earlier this week in practice, Bless decided to switch quarterback Michael Vogel to H-back and tailback, inserting sophomore Mitchell Kelley as the starting quarterback.
“A key part of our rushing attack was Michael’s explosiveness and quickness in blocking,” Bless said.
North left little doubt about its game plan. It lined up and rushed the ball right down the Falcons’ throats. Kelley threw just five times the entire game, completing four and having the other pass dropped.
But Holt simply was a battering ram, who got a break at times when Vogel (15 rushes for 82 yards) and Kelley (eight carries for 75 yards) took some turns.
Perry Meridian (4-3, 2-3) started with a four-man defensive line, switched to a five-man line when North rammed its first two offensive possessions right over them for touchdowns and eventually brought all 11 defensive players to the line of scrimmage.
Through it all, North’s offensive line kept drilling holes and the Bull Dogs’ runners kept picking their way through.
It wasn’t easy, though, as Perry Meridian has three of the state’s top offensive players. Quarterback Conner Smith threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Andrew Robinson rushed 10 times for 43 yards and two touchdowns. Jaquan Keys rushed for 76 yards, caught three passes for 66 yards and two more touchdowns and also scored on a 92-yard kickoff return.
North’s kickoff team was poor all night until it counted most.
With the game seeming like it would be decided by the last team with the ball, North scored at the 6:39 mark of the fourth quarter (Holt going over from 13 yards out) to take a 42-35 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, North kicker Andrew Ng drilled a low bullet that bounced off one of Perry Meridian’s up blockers and deflected right back to North’s Justin Huser, who recovered the loose ball at the Perry Meridian 48.
The Bull Dogs then drove for the touchdown, Holt going over from the 9 with 2:03 remaining.
Perry Meridian countered with Keys’ 34-yard touchdown reception from Smith with 47 seconds remaining, but Schoeberl recovered the deflected on-sides kick and North ran out the clock.
“Physical football wins and clearly we were the more physical team on the field,” Bless said. “But that was quite a show.
“Our game plan came to fruition, and it was because of us winning the battle up front. We have to taste it. Man, it is sweet.”
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