Columbus East was a bit off.
The Olympians muffed a couple of punts. They threw an ugly interception. They just didn’t have their usual zip.
And they led 35-0 by halftime en route to a 54-8 rout of visiting Madison that got so bad that officials started to use a running clock before the third quarter was over.
East coach Bob Gaddis knows that his team has to be at its best next Friday when the Olympians host Jeffersonville in a game that will decide the Hoosier Hills Conference champion.
“We’ve got to play better,” Gaddis said. “In the first half, we didn’t play as well as we can. But we did win, and we have to learn from it.”
Although the Olympians (7-0 overall, 5-0 Hoosier Hills Conference) weren’t crisp, they simply had too much talent for the Cubs (2-5, 1-4). That was evident on East’s defensive line, where defensive end Brock Patterson was a force of destruction.
Coming into the game with injury problems that forced running backs Mitchell Sandlin and Wayne Sherbahn to share the quarterbacking duties, the Cubs couldn’t get away from center without Patterson in their face. Patterson led a defense that put together 10 tackles for loss, including two sacks by Patterson.
Madison never mounted any kind of offensive threat until it scored in the fourth quarter against the Olympians’ reserves.
East simply had too much firepower on offense, even with starting tailback Markell Jones sitting out the game to rest his injured lower leg. Tailback Christian Wichman had 13 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns and the sky would have been the limit if Gaddis turned him loose.
Quarterback Alex Cowan ran for three touchdowns and threw for two touchdowns, finishing the game with 87 yards rushing on seven carries and 125 yards in passing.
Even so, Cowan threw a ball up for grabs that was intercepted, and East’s passing game in general seemed out of synch.
Gaddis told his team at halftime that it looked sloppy and East came out and looked sharper on offense in the third quarter. Even so, there was one 18-yard gain by Wichman where he might have broken free for the touchdown, but he dropped the ball, then picked it back up and finished the run. It was that kind of night.
With several of the Olympians involved in Homecoming ceremonies, and a weak opponent, it made sense that East would be off its game. It didn’t matter.
East drove 65 yards on its first possession in seven plays, with Wichman scoring on a three-yard run.
Sherbahn threw a backward pass on Madison’s first series that turned into a fumble with East recovering at the Madison 25. Three plays later, Cowan ran over from the 2. It was 14-0 after four minutes and a second.
Things got sloppy from there until the Olympians got back into the end zone at the 9:13 mark of the second quarter on Cowan’s one-yard run.
With East in charge, Gaddis tried some experimenting and put in Brian Wichman at quarterback to run the offense. Wide receiver Sean Owens kept going into motion and taking the handoff, knocking out runs of 15, 14 and 14 yards. Brian Wichman capped the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run up the middle. It was 28-0.
East put another touchdown on the board before halftime as Jacob Hampton caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Cowan with 15 seconds remaining until intermission.
The Olympians poured it on in the second half.
One of the highlights of the night for East was a hit on the kickoff delivered by Yates Burkhart, who laid out Sherbahm in the third quarter.