FOR one uncomfortable moment in the opening quarter of the 4A sectional semifinals Friday at Columbus East High School, fans of the No. 1-ranked Olympians might have worried just a bit.
Unheralded Greenwood, just 5-5 coming into the game, marched 74 yards on six plays to tie the game at 7-7. Greenwood running back John Gallman keyed the drive with a 30-yard run right up the middle, and fellow running back Austin Montgomery ended it with a 22-yard scoring run.
The Woodmen made it look easy with their option. Were the Olympians in trouble?
Forget about it.
East senior Christian Wichman returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, and the Olympians (11-0) scored 42 unanswered points in their 49-14 victory.
The Olympians, who didn’t score in the second half as they ran down the clock with their reserves, advance to next Friday’s sectional championship game, hosting Shelbyville (a winner against East Central).
East coach Bob Gaddis said he thought his squad played one of its best games of the season.
“We scored every time we had it in the first half,” he said, not counting the final drive before intermission in which he took out some of his starters. “We were crisp.”
Gaddis said he thought his defense produced a great effort despite allowing the touchdown on the opening drive.
“We just had to adjust,” Gaddis said.
Greenwood never could adjust to the speed and power of Jones, who rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
The Woodmen, who finished 5-6, didn’t have any better luck with East quarterback Alex Cowan, who gained 118 yards rushing on just five carries with two touchdowns.
Jones opened the scoring with a two-yard burst on East’s first drive, but Cowan keyed the scoring drive with a 58-yard run up the middle on the Olympians’ first offensive play.
After Wichman gave East the lead back at 14-7 with his return, the Olympians scored six more touchdowns before the half was finished.
Cowan ran 41 yards to make it 21-7 and added a three-yard touchdown run to give East a 28-7 lead with 21 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
It was so obvious the Woodmen defense couldn’t stop East, Greenwood head coach Mike Campbell went for it twice on fourth down in his own territory in the first quarter. The Olympian defense rose to the challenge on the second attempt, stuffing Greenwood quarterback Tanner Skeel on a sneak and getting the ball at the Woodmen 40. That set up Cowan’s second touchdown.
“They were the real deal,” Campbell said of the Olympians.
Jones ran 30 yards for his second touchdown to open the second quarter and Cowen hooked up with wide receiver JT Voelker on a 22-yard scoring pass for a 42-7 lead. East completed its scoring when Sean Owens took over for Jones and ran 15 yards for a touchdown and a 49-7 lead with 4:41 remaining in the half.
Gaddis went conservative from that point, content to run mostly dives and run the clock.
Montgomery, a senior, scored the Woodmen’s other touchdown in the fourth quarter on a one-yard dive.
Quarterback Tanner Skeel finished as Greenwood’s top rusher, gaining 79 yards on 15 carries. Gallman finished with 70 yards rushing and Montgomery had 40 yards rushing to go with the two touchdowns.
Cowan threw only two passes, completing both to Voelker, who finished with 47 yards of receiving.