December 22, 2014

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High school football: Quick strikes carry Columbia past Fairview in battle of Patriot Athletic Conference unbeatens

Columbia's quarterback Jay Banyasz runs for yardage before being dragged down by Fairview's Austin Fox. LINDA MURPHY/CHRONICLE

Columbia’s quarterback Jay Banyasz runs for yardage before being dragged down by Fairview’s Austin Fox. LINDA MURPHY/CHRONICLE

COLUMBIA STATION — After months of practices, film sessions and poring over game plans, Columbia took control of the Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division in a matter of 35 seconds Friday night.

That was the amount of time it took the Raiders to score two touchdowns late in the first half of their 28-10 win Fairview, turning a defensive struggle into a one-sided affair in a matchup of unbeatens.

Columbia (6-0, 3-0) trailed 3-0 until midway through the second quarter when senior quarterback Jay Banyasz scored on a 2-yard run to put the Raiders on the board. Sebastian Heuniche’s point-after kick made the score 7-3.

Then, with time running out in the first half, Columbia turned on its scoring machine. Banyasz found Jesse Lambert wide open in the far corner of the end zone with a 15-yard pass to extend the lead to 14-3 with 1:08 to play.

On the ensuing kickoff, junior linebacker Shane Garrow stopped Warriors returner Josh Filkill dead in his tracks while separating him from the football. Austin Walaszewski picked up the loose ball and the Columbia offense was back in business on the Fairview 37.

After a 26-yard completion to Michael Boey, Banyasz ran in from 9 yards out to make the score 21-3.

“It takes a veteran team to realize the opportunity we had at that moment and go out and capitalize on it,” Columbia coach Jason Ward said his team’s quick score after the turnover. “Tonight was a huge night for our defense. We came out and played Columbia Raiders defense. I am proud as heck of those guys. The defense was the star of the show tonight.”

Coming into the game, Garrow had made only four tackles all season. However, his one big hit made a huge impression on Ward.

“That was one of the biggest hits I have ever seen in high school football,” he said. “That was awesome. He got the crowd into the game and he really got our sideline fired up. That was a big moment in the game.”

Garrow said he saw his chance to make a big play and he went for it.

“The guy was coming up the field wide open and I came right in on his blindside and got a good hit on him,” Garrow said. “This win showed tonight how important special teams can be in a close game.”

Banyasz had another impressive night on both sides of the ball. On offense, he was 14-of-21 passing for 237 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a pair of touchdowns. And he forced a fumble on defense.

“We played well in every phase of the game,” Banyasz said. “You only 10 of these Friday nights as a senior and only five in front of your home crowd, so you really have to make the most of each game. The way the community supports us is amazing. It really makes it easy to come out ready each week.”

Fairview (5-1, 2-1), which was playing without starting quarterback Colin McNamara, didn’t find the end zone until Drew Kostos scored on a 2-yard run with 5:14 to play to make the final score 28-10.

“That’s a good defense we faced tonight,” Ward said. “Fairview is well-coached and they had a game plan for us tonight. It took us a while to get going but in the end we preserved.”

Boey led the Raiders in receiving with five catches for 75 yards.

WORKHORSES IN THE BACKFIELD: Both teams took an old-school approach to their running games, using just a handful of running backs to carry the load. Banyasz and Jacob Kleinhenz had all 34 of the Raiders’ carries, 24 by Banyasz. Kostos and quarterback Jason Kish accounted for 36 of Fairview’s 39 carries.

Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.