RIVERTON — Riverton went three and out to start last Friday’s game on their home field. After a punt, Columbus started on Riverton’s 7 yard line. With a powerful and shifty ground game from freshman Jace McDown, sophomore Taylor Watkins, and sophomore quarterback Nate Bole, the Titans moved down the field to the 5. After a false start from Columbus and a face mask penalty from Riverton, McDown scored from the 7.
After another Riverton three and out, the Titans started at the Riverton 44. With Bole running, Columbus advanced to the 20. A Ram penalty moved the ball to the 10. Junior A J Randle scooted to the right side and advanced to the 2. Within seven minutes Columbus scored again when Bole ran up the middle to put the Titans up 12-0.
Riverton started on the Titans’ 33 after the kick off. The Rams got on the scoreboard when junior Chandler Underhill with a 48 yard in the air pass caught sophomore Landon North on a dead out sprint for a 67 yard touchdown. Jake Neal’s extra point kick was good for a 12-7 score.
At the 2:17 mark, still in the first quarter, Columbus scored again. They started at the 50 and with runs by senior Jordan Morgan and freshman Javohn Morrell the Titan moved to the 32. With a perfect pass/catch from Bole to Randle and a successful extra point kick from Watkins, Columbus upped the score to 19-7.
To start the second quarter North burst 60 yards from the Columbus 30 to Riverton’s 10. A Ram penalty moved Riverton all the way back to the Columbus 34. Hunter Deckard caught a pass at the 48. After a run by Underhill and an out of bounds roughness call on Columbus, the Rams advanced to the 39. On two runs, Neal bulled his way to the 17. Underhill moved the Rams to the 5 then was advanced to the 1 on a pass interference call. Underhill converted a successful quarterback sneak to bring Riverton back 19-13.
Next came passes to seniors Austin Powell, Neal, and Deckard, and Riverton moved to the 20. With a great hard nose run by Neal he was stopped at the 1. With 2 seconds on the clock Underhill on another quarterback sneak couldn’t find a hole in the middle. Underhill scrambled right and dove into the end zone.
Neal’s kick was no good but Columbus was called for roughing the kicker. Underhill then caught a wide open North for the 2-point conversion and the Rams went into the locker room with 21-19 lead.
The air soon went out of the Ram’s momentum early in the second half. The Titans scored two touchdowns in the first five minutes. On an apparent punt and a fourth and eleven, punter McDown executed a perfect fake and gained 24 yards. Morgan scored from 32 yards out and with a pass from Bole to Watkins Columbus regained the lead 27-21. One minute later McDown ran to the 1 and on the next play he scored and also ran the two-point conversion.
With one minute left in the quarter, A J Randle ran in from the 24 and Watkins made his extra point kick.
The Titans kept rolling in the fourth with a 20 yard run from McDown and with Watkins kick upped the score 49-21.
Riverton added their final score on Neal’s 26 yard end zone diving catch from Underhill.
A few ticks later on the clock Columbus wasn’t done scoring. A J Randle broke loose for a 35 yard TD and with Watkins kick the Titans commanded the Rams 56-27.
The freshmen/sophomore running backs of the Titans put on a fantastic show. Columbus rushed for 426 yards and was lead by McDown’s 16 carries for 146 yards.
The Rams’ season leading rusher and leader of tackles, Greyson Spriggs was sidelined very early in the game with a shoulder injury. Lineman sophomore Mason McCorkle was taken by ambulance on a neck injury and North went out with an ankle sprain. With low squad numbers this hurt the depth of both the offense and defense. Neal filled in on the running duties and finished with 54 yards. With Spriggs out the Rams netted on 78 yards on the ground.
Without much of a running game, Riverton went to the air. Underhill completed 16-31 passes for 251 yards. North was on the receiving end for 3 catches for 133 yards.
Rams’ seniors Sam Taylor, Nolan Wall, Dylan Weaver , and Neal each recorded 7 1/2 tackles.
Columbus played three tough opponents hard to start the season including an overtime lose to Ft Scott to start the season 0-3. Probably the best 0-3 team in Kansas.
The Titans’ coach Dan Grundy told his team after the game “the first one’s the hardest. That was a tough victory and you got it done.”
Assistant coach Chris Endress added, “The third quarter we learned how to win.”