Fred Steiner | The Chronicle-Telegram
COLUMBIA STATION — This is what undefeated looks like.
Undefeated is balanced. Undefeated is adaptable. Undefeated is strong. Undefeated is selfless. Undefeated is opportunistic.
Friday night the Columbia Raiders put on a demonstration of those principles in a 35-10 Homecoming victory over a gritty and game Oberlin team in Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division play.
The Raiders (7-0, 4-0) had to bounce back from a slow-starting first period in which the Phoenix (2-5, 1-3) fired up its running offense led by kinetic and dynamic scatback Kilyan Bugg.
Hitching its opening drive to the smoothly elusive 5-foot-1, 135-pound senior, the Phoenix rolled up six first downs and 65 yards in nearly eight minutes, virtually consuming the quarter.
However, the drive stalled on the doorstep, resulting in a 23-yard Grant Cadenhead field goal.
“I think we gave them a bigger game than they anticipated,” Oberlin coach Fred Howery said. “Our offense did what they were supposed to do, we didn’t quite get into the end zone, but we got the three points.”
The Columbia wake-up call came in the second period when tackle Daniel Loub blocked a Phoenix punt and the Raiders recovered at the Oberlin 40. Columbia quarterback Jay Banyasz struck quickly, throwing a 40-yard strike to Jesse Lambert on the next play.
In a span of 15 seconds, Oberlin’s hard-earned first-quarter lead was gone.
Not content to allow his sister Emily to claim the spotlight as the 2013 Homecoming Queen, defensive back Jacob Viccarone snagged a Phoenix pass on the next possession and returned it 59 yards to the end zone to seriously change the momentum.
“They were just running slants all night,” he said. “They just take a step in and then motion away and try to hit that backside slant. So when I saw him take that step in, knew it was going to be a fade and I just jumped it.”
The quick score set the tone and put the Raiders back into their comfort zone.
“It was absolutely huge because we had shot ourselves in the foot with a couple of penalties,” Columbia coach Jason Ward said.
It wasn’t all Homecoming moonbeams and lollipops for the Raiders, though, as Banyasz went down with an apparent ankle sprain later in the quarter and left for the duration. That opened the door for the backup quarterback, who just happens to be Viccarone.
With Banyasz out, Viccarone’s operation of the offense amounted to basically removing the shackles from the Raiders’ ground monster, Jacob Kleinhenz. The 6-0, 195-pound senior tailback chewed on the Phoenix defense like a hungry Rottweiler, rolling up 206 yards on 31 bone-crunching carries, three touchdowns and a 2-point conversion.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Offensive linemen are the Rodney Dangerfields of football. Even Hall of Fame broadcaster Keith Jackson used to refer to them as the “big uglies up front.” But not in Columbia, where the student body selected Raiders center Chuckie Sinnamond as Homecoming King. Whatever would Keith think?
Contact Fred Steiner at 329-7135 or email@example.com.