SHEFFIELD — Columbia could score often enough in the first half of Friday night’s game against Clearview.
What the Raiders couldn’t do in the first half was keep Clearview from scoring. In the second half, however, Columbia could do both and the Raiders pulled away from a three-point halftime lead with 23 unanswered points for a 51-25 victory.
The victory gave Columbia the Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division championship. It also guaranteed the Raiders a berth in the Division V, Region 18 playoffs. It’s Columbia’s fourth shot in the playoffs, as the Raiders will seek their first postseason victory. They are expected to host Archbold on Friday night.
After two quarters it looked as if Clearview, which also came into Friday night with a chance at a divisional title and an opportunity to lock up a playoff spot, had just as good a shot at those goals. That was prior to Columbia (9-1, 5-0 Stripes Division) clamping down on defense and running the ball with authority. But the Clippers still managed a playoff spot and will hit the road in the first round.
The Raiders gained
69 yards on the ground in the first half, but picked up
172 yards rushing after halftime. Jacob Kleinhenz, who gained only 1 yard on five carries in the first half, broke out for 79 yards on 12 tries in the last two quarters.
“Coach (Jason Ward) said he was going to put it on my shoulders,” Kleinhenz said. “That gave me a little extra push. My job was to just pound the ball and run down the clock.”
“He gained confidence in our linemen,” Ward said. “Jake sometimes tiptoes with the ball. When he hits the holes hard it builds up his confidence that the line can do the job.”
Kleinhenz picked up the Raiders’ last five first downs as Columbia kept Clearview (7-3, 4-1) and its quick-strike offense off the field for the majority of the second half.
“That was the story,” Clearview coach Mike Collier said. “We did a bad job with time of possession in the second half. Columbia just kept moving the chains. They were great running the ball and (our defense) couldn’t get off the field.”
Columbia held the Clippers to 27 yards and one first down until the game’s final drive, on which Clearview gained 86 yards and would up at the 4-yard line as time expired.
“Outstanding defense in the second half,” Ward said. “Their pride got a little stung in the first half, but we know they’re a good defense.”
One good effort on defense was turned in by Jay Banyasz, the Raiders’ hard-hitting free safety. His performance on offense was even better from his quarterback position. Banyasz had a night he will not soon forget with 161 yards rushing, five rushing touchdowns and a TD pass.
“Our offensive line hasn’t had the best of seasons, so it was good to see them all play well tonight,” Ward said. “And Jay went nuts. He’s a great athlete, obviously. Good things happen to good people, and Jay is good people.”
Banyasz connected with Austin Walaszewski for an 18-yard touchdown on the Raiders’ first play. Columbia lost the lead twice before taking it for good on a 2-yard TD run by Kleinhenz with 2:14 left before halftime.
Banyasz came out blazing on the first drive of the second half, connecting with Walaszewski for 16 yards, Tristen Rindfleisch for 11 yards and Ben Verbus for 38 yards before taking it in the end zone himself on a 5-yard run.
Banyasz gained 93 yards rushing in the second half and added touchdown runs of 2 and 5 yards.
Chad Anderson was the Clippers’ main man in the first half with 132 yards rushing on 17 carries and two touchdowns. He had only 32 yards rushing on six attempts in the second half.
Roger Engle, Clearview’s quarterback, completed all five of his passes for 136 yards and two TDs in the first half. Engel missed on his first seven passes in the second half and completed only one pass until the last drive.
BIG TURNABOUT: The result of the game could have been radically different had Clearview not been charged for holding on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Engle to Gerrell Williams in the second quarter. That call was followed by another holding penalty and an illegal procedure penalty that put the Clippers back at their 15-yard line. A snap over Engle’s head on second-and-38 was recovered by Columbia’s Dan Loub at the 2. Three plays later the Raiders scored on a 1-yard run by Banyasz.
Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.