IF Columbus East’s 2014 football debut against visiting Bloomington North on Friday offered one contrast from the previous year’s state championship campaign, it was that tailback Markell Jones had to play in the second half.
The Olympians were dominating while posting a 28-6 third-quarter lead in a game that was postponed until today at 1 p.m. due to a lightning delay.
The contest will be picked up at the 4:57 mark of the third quarter and will be finished at Columbus East High School. If the Olympians get any sleep at all, things shouldn’t change much.
Although it was obvious that head coach Bob Gaddis and his crew have a lot of work to do in order to reach the lofty heights of previous seasons, they had the game firmly in their hands. It’s wasn’t their fault they couldn’t finish off the Cougars.
The lightning delay lasted 2 hours and 5 minutes before officials decided the two teams would return today and resume play.
Jones had a grinding 213 yards rushing when lightning halted play with 4:57 remaining, but the Cougars made him work for most of his yards. Last season, Jones seldom played in the second half of games because the outcome had long since been decided.
It didn’t appear it would be that way in East’s first possession of the first quarter when Jones burst free for a 60-yard touchdown run and was hardly touched.
That was Jones’ only touchdown of the game.
Part of that might be by design. Gaddis had to develop other scoring outlets to take the heat off Jones, who was a marked man every time he touched the ball.
On East’s third offensive possession, set up by Cam Curry’s interception of Bloomington North quarterback Jack Smith, tight end Rhett Myers capped a five-play drive with a 12-yard touchdown catch from junior quarterback K.J. McCarter.
Jones had carried the first four plays of the drive, gaining 26 yards down to the Bloomington North 3-yard line. However, a holding penalty moved it back to the 12, where McCarter found Myers.
East made it 21-0 in the second quarter when wide receiver Cameron Wilson caught a pass in the flat from McCarter, then jetted 18 yards for the touchdown. McCarter’s explosion after he caught the ball in the open field was impressive.
Bloomington North finally got on the board with 2:38 left in the second quarter as wide receiver Drew Ludwig pulled down a 10-yard touchdown pass from Smith. The touchdown was set up when the Cougars’ Henry Street intercepted a deflected pass from McCarter and chugged 50 yards to the East 10-yard line.
However, the Olympians answered right back with a 62-yard touchdown drive in only six plays. Jones covered 54 of the drive on three carries, and McCarter capped the drive with a one-yard drive.
The third quarter had been sluggish for East, which had three holding penalties on the night, when play was delayed by lightning.
One part of East’s attack that wasn’t sluggish was the defense. Senior cornerback Nick Beamish had two interceptions, and linebacker Tyler Campbell had two sacks.
The defensive line was dominant throughout, chasing Smith from the opening snap and forcing him to throw the ball up for grabs. Bloomington North could get nothing going on the ground, accumulating just 26 yards rushing when the game was halted by the lighting.
Smith’s best moment was wiped out by a penalty. Running for his life, Smith lofted an apparent 89-yard touchdown pass to Ludwig in the third quarter, but the play was called back by a penalty.