WEST COLUMBIA – Perfection is hard to find in the opening game of the season.
Despite some early errors, the Columbia Roughnecks were able to find a perfect ending to their opener Friday night as they rolled to a 38-7 victory over Victoria East.
The Roughnecks had nine penalties in the contest; most of those came in the first half. Plus, an early turnover helped lead to the Titans’ only touchdown.
The Roughnecks were able to turn those early-game rough spots into a dominating performance. The Columbia defense forced Victoria East to punt nine times in the game, and the team had a total of 169 yards of offense.
Columbia’s Wing-T offense got rolling after a slow start and generated 378 total yards with a number of ball carriers making an impact on Columbia’s bottom line.
“I think in that first quarter, we made so many mistakes,” Columbia coach Brent Mascheck said. “I thought our toughness showed hanging in and coming back and beating a very good football team. They return a lot of players that qualified for the playoffs in 5A Division I. I was proud of our kids, but we have to continue to get better.”
Victoria East took a 7-0 lead with 2:55 left in the first quarter when William Garley capped a 65-yard drive with a one-yard run. The drive came after Marquise Kuykendall intercepted a Columbia pass at the Titan 35 to stop a Roughneck drive.
The Roughnecks struck back with a vengeance only a few seconds later when Sultan Abdullah caught a 55-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cameron Ward to help tie the game 7-7.
Columbia would take the lead for good with 7:19 left in the second quarter when Ward capped a 48-yard drive as he bulled his way into the end zone from four yards out.
The touchdown run was set up by a 21-yard run by Jordan Woodard to the Titan 4. Woodard was among seven ball carriers who made contributions to Columbia’s running attack.
“We did a good job of distributing the ball across the board to all the running backs,” Mascheck said.
Just before halftime, Columbia hit pay dirt again. With 24 seconds left in the first half, William Carlson caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Ward to help increase Columbia’s lead to 21-7. Sophomore running back Jabari Mack set up the touchdown with a 48-yard run to the Titan 7.
In the third quarter after the Columbia defense forced Victoria East to turn the ball over on downs, the Roughneck offense marched 66 yards for its next score. Dez Fields capped the drive with a 20-yard touchdown run.
“Defensively, they did an outstanding job. Missing two starters from that unit, I thought those guys battled their brains out all night long,” Mascheck said.
Jame’son Rebector became the fifth Roughneck to score a touchdown when he finished off a short 40-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run with 1:50 left in the third quarter to extend Columbia’s lead to 35-7.
Kicker Juan Rosas, on top of kicking all five extra points, kicked a 32-yard field goal with 4:30 left in the game to finish off the scoring for Columbia.