ALTAMONT – Coach Dan Grundy’s Columbus Titans had no trouble putting away Coach Jesse Ybarra’s Labette County Grizzlies on a cold, damp night in Altamont on Thursday. The Titans won the coin toss but deferred possession until the second half. Titan kicker Taylor Watkins tried the onside kick to start out the game, but Columbus was flagged for an illegal block in the back on the play. Watkins kicked again from the Columbus 25-yard line. Labette County’s offense started in good field position at the 50-yard line.
The Grizzlies would only get off two plays before turning the ball over. On first down, senior quarterback Dontae Johnson threw incomplete. Second down saw Tyler Cares run the ball but fumble on the play. Columbus’ Kendal Hale came up with the ball giving the Titans first and 10 on the Grizzlies 49-yard line. But, the Titans would stall and turn the ball over on downs.
The Grizzlies would go three and out with a false start penalty on third down. Columbus would start rolling on their next possession that started on their own 49. Titan Jace McDown would run the ball twice for a total of 14 yards and a first down. Columbus quarterback Nate Bole would run once for 12 yards and a first down. Bole would run again on first down but gain nothing. Watkins would run next for a 20 yard gain and get the ball down to the Grizzlies 5-yard line. McDown would run the ball in on first and goal for the touchdown with 4:42 left in the first quarter. Columbus tried the fake field goal with Justin Graham but could not complete the two point conversion leaving the score in favor of the Titans at 6-0.
Carrying the possession over from the first quarter to the second, the Grizzlies would march all the way to the Titan 30-yard line before Johnson would throw an interception to the Columbus’ freshman Austin Napier with 8:11 left in the half.
Columbus would strike quickly, capitalizing on the turnover with their possession at the Grizzlies 26. Columbus freshman Javohn Morrell would run the ball for 16 yards making it first and goal for the Titans. Titan junior AJ Randle would lose two making it 12 yards to hit the endzone. Randle would run the twelve for the score on second down and goal with 7:22 left in the half. Columbus would go for two but fail to convert leaving the score at 12-0.
The Grizzlies would again go three and out. With excellent field position once again, Columbus could not score. The Titans would run twice with a fumble on second down. Then, on third down Bole would find Randle open down field. But, Randle would fumble after the catch with the Grizzlies Eli Tallman recovering at the Labette County 45. Again, the Grizzlies would go three and out. Labette County would also be flagged for a personal foul on the punt return giving the ball to Columbus at the Grizzlies 45. Columbus would pick up two first downs before Bole would find Randle open in the endzone for score with 19 seconds remaining in the half. Watkins PAT was no good making the score 18-0 in favor of Columbus at half.
Columbus would start with the ball in the second half but falter and give the ball to Labette County on downs at the Grizzlies 27-yard line. The Grizzlies would have the ball two plays before fumbling the ball once again with the Titans recovering at the Labette County 26. Bole would hit senior Jordan Morgan to move the Titans to the 1-yard line. Bole would keep it himself on first and goal for the touchdown with 7:48 left in the third quarter. Watkins PAT was good bringing the score to 25-0 Columbus.
The Grizzlies would run 11 plays before punting the ball away once more to Columbus. The Titans would be backed up all the way on their 15-yard line. It would appear the Columbus was going to give the ball up after only three plays, but the Titans found a way to pick up the first. On first and 10, Morrell would run for 2. The Titans would be flagged for holding on second and 8. After the 10 yard penalty, Bole would run the ball on second and 18 for a seven yard gain. The Grizzlies would bail Columbus out on third down by an offside penalty giving the Titans first and 10 at their own 29. Bole would run the next two plays for a total of four yards. Randle would run on third down and pick up four yards. On fourth and two, Columbus would go for it and pick up two yards on a Bole keeper. Bole would run on first down for a couple more yards before hitting Morgan on a 25 yard passing play that moved the ball down to the Grizzlies 33-yard line. Bole would find Randle for a huge gain. Eventually on second and 14 at the Labette County 20, McDown would rush into the endzone for the touchdown with 9:21 left in the game. Watkins PAT was good bringing the score to 32-0 in favor of Columbus.
Over the next nine plus minutes, Labette County and Columbus would trade possessions. The final score would be Columbus 32 and Labette County 0.
With the loss, Labette County ends its season at (3-6) overall, (2-4) in the SEK league, and (1-2) in district action.
Columbus advances to the Kansas 4A playoffs with the win. The Titans record stands at (4-5) overall, (3-3) in the CNC, and (2-1) in district play. Columbus is in action in the first round of the playoffs Tuesday in Girard for an early season rematch that saw Girard edge Columbus 19-14 in week three.