CLEVELAND – They say tough losses are the hardest to forget.
If that’s true, Saturday’s 24-23 loss at Cleveland Central Catholic will haunt Columbia’s football team a long, long time.
“They don’t get much tougher than that,” said Raiders coach Jason Ward. “You got 10 guys going both ways like that. They fight like that. I know they (Central Catholic) have a lot of guys going both ways, too. It was a shame anybody had to lose this game. The fact that we were the ones, makes it a little bit harder.”
Columbia appeared to have the game won when its hard-nosed senior tailback Brandon Heidinger snuck out of the backfield uncovered to catch a 35-yard touchdown pass from senior John Banyasz with 4:07 to play to put the Raiders in front, 23-18.
Even when the conversion pass failed – the Raiders would have been up seven if it had worked – things still looked OK for Columbia when it pinned the Ironmen inside their own 20-yard line on the ensuing kick. It still looked even better when CCC had a first down and a mile to go at Columbia’s 47 with only 42 seconds to go.
However, as it did all afternoon, CCC made the plays it needed to make. This time the Ironmen broke the Raiders’ hearts with a fourth-down pass play that resulted in a first down inside the 5. A 2-yard quarterback keeper with 16 seconds left was the clincher.
Columbia has lost its opener to CCC the past three years, coming closer each time to securing a victory.
“We believe with these young guys,” Ironmen coach John Lundy said. “We’ve got a real talented crew and we believe until the last second we can come back and win.”
Last second and last gasp is more like it. Of Central’s four touchdowns, one came on a fourth-and-19 at Columbia’s 35. Another came on the last play of the first half on a 28-yard pass play that Khairi Dickson just simply refused to give up on. The third was on a 13-yard scramble by sophomore quarterback Tavion Pauldo to put CCC in front, 18-17, with eight minutes to go.
Pauldo then repeated the play from the 2-yard line to pull the Ironmen in front for the last and final time.
Columbia grabbed a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Banyasz fired an 82-yard scoring pass to senior Shane Lambert on the first series and senior Jake Skowronsky converted a 36-yard field goal on the second possession. It was all going right at that point. Heidinger scored from the 2 to put Columbia up 17-12 to end the third quarter.
“They all made plays,” Ward said of his veteran, senior-laden team. “Every one of them did everything they could to bring it home for us. I told them we just needed one more play.”
CCC found ways to get it done and Ward begrudgingly tipped his hat to the Ironmen in general and, in particular, Dickson, who just seemed to keep plays alive. Dickson was responsible for 98 of CCC’s rushing yards and 38 of its passing total.
“They always have somebody like that,” he said. “We had him stopped for a lot of losses that he kind of wiggled out of. That’s what I expect when we play these guys. I don’t really know their names – they get guys from here and there and everywhere – I just know they’ll have an athlete that can do those kinds of things. We had a hard time controlling him.”
• CLOCK OUT: Wednesday’s storm knocked out power at Cleveland Central Catholic for better than two days and the scoreboard still wasn’t functioning Saturday. That made things tough on both sidelines trying to figure how much time was left to play at the end of each half. Columbia had the ball near the end of the first half but turned it over on a punt with only 21 seconds left, but a couple of costly penalties gave CCC a chance to grab the lead as the half ended.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Cleveland Central Catholic 24, Columbia 23
Columbia 10 0 7 6 - 23
Central Catholic 0 12 0 12 - 24
COL-Shane Lambert 82 pass from John Banyasz (Jake Skowronsky kick)
COL-FG Skowronsky 36
CCC-Kentrell Richards 35 pass from Tavion Pauldo (kick failed)
CCC-Khairi Dickson 28 pass from Pauldo (run failed)
COL-Brandon Heidinger 2 run (Skowronsky kick)
CCC-Pauldo 13 run (pass failed)
COL-Heidinger 35 pass from Banyasz (pass failed)
CCC-Pauldo 2 run (run failed)
First downs 13 19
- by rushing 6 10
- by passing 7 6
- by penalty 0 3
Yards rushing 66 182
Yards passing 271 195
Total offense 337 377
Passes att./comp. 19/12 23/13
Intercepted by 1 1
Fumbles/lost 0/0 2/1
Penalties/yards 9/75 10/89
RUSHING – (Col) Brandon Heidinger 26-85, John Banyasz 6-(-20), Jacob Kleinhenz 1-1. (CCC) Khairi Dickson 13-98, Tavion Pauldo 13-58, Och’e Heard 3-14, Gregory Alexander 1-4, Davon Robinson 2-8.
PASSING – (Col) John Banyasz 11-17-263-2-1, Bryan Horn 0-1-0-0-0, Shane Lambert 1-1-8-0-0. (CCC) Tavion Pauldo 13-23-195-2-1.
RECEIVING – (Col) Shane Lambert 6-164, Ben Verbus 2-49, Brandon Heidinger 2-48, Jacob Kleinhenz 1-2, John Banyasz 1-8. (CCC) Kentrell Richard 3-71, Damon Wheat 3-48, Kie’sean Cooke 3-32, Khairi Dickson 2-38, Davon Robinson 1-6, Tevin Davis 1-0.