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COLUMBIA CITY — The old proverb states that all good things must come to an end. For the Columbia City Eagle football team the best season in recent memory came to an end Friday night at the hands of the Bishop Dwenger Saints in the finals of the Class 4A IHSAA sectional 11 finals. The Saints used a bruising running attack that gained more than 400 yards and a defense that forced two Eagle turnovers to down Columbia City 50-7 at Max Gandy Athletic Field.
The Saints returned the opening kickoff 44 yards to the Columbia City 41-yard line, before an errant snap from center and the Eagle defense forced the Saints to turn the ball over on downs.
Following an Eagle punt, Dwenger got on the board with a 36-yard run by senior running back Jalen West capping a six-play, 72-yard drive that put the Saints up 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Saints put together another scoring drive that spanned eight plays and 54 yards, finished off by a two-yard plunge by senior Remound Wright.
Following another Eagle punt, West, who ran for 190 yards on the night, scored on a 30-yard burst off the left side. The Saints converted a two-point conversion on the botched snap to take a 22-0 lead on the Eagles with 7:44 left in the first half.
The Eagle offense got untracked on its next possession, mounting a nine-play, 86-yard drive against the Saints. Starting on their own 14-yard line the Eagles got out of the hole on a 24-yard reception by senior Thomas De La Cruz.
A 10-yard run and a 17-yard catch by Eagle junior Cody Wildman gave the Eagles a first down at the Dwenger 16-yard line. Following a procedure penalty against the Eagles, senior quarterback Logan Rehrer hit De La Cruz with a 22-yard scoring strike, that the senior receiver hauled in as he was being driven out of bounds in the back right corner of the end zone.
With 5:04 left in the half the Eagles trailed 22-7.
The Eagle defense stiffened forcing the Saints to punt on their next possession and the Columbia City offense moved the ball down the field against the Saints. A reception by De La Cruz and a holding penalty against the Saints gave the Eagles the ball on the Dwenger 28-yard line with a good chance to cut into the Saint lead, but on the second play from scrimmage Rehrer’s pass was picked off by the Saints’ Wilson Ganga.
Starting on its own 12-yard line with just 1:15 on the clock before the half, Dwenger quarterback Patrick Ryan completed 6-of-6 passes, including a 26-yard touchdown aerial to Cameron Smith with just six seconds left on the clock, to give the Saints a 29-7 lead at the half.
The Eagles made two second-half forays deep into Dwenger territory but were unable to push the ball across the goal line.
Taking the opening kickoff of the second half, Columbia City drove to the Dwenger 17-yard line before turning the ball over on downs. Highlights of the drive were an 11-yard pass to Connor Slavich and passes of 11 and 19 yards to Stephen Farrer.
On the next Columbia City possession, following another Dwenger touchdown run by West the put the Saints up 36-7, the Eagles again put together a sustained drive, moving from their own 18-yard line. Rehrer completed three consecutive passes covering a total of 53 yards, but was picked off at the Dwenger 27-yard line.
The Saints made use of the turnover with Wright dashing 59 yards to put the Saints up 43-7.
“We were able to move the ball but we just didn’t finish the drives,” Eagle coach Randy Hudgins said. “We either made a mistake or turned the ball over, and you can’t do that and expect to advance out of the sectional.”
Bishop Dwenger added a final score on a 25-yard pass play to end the Eagles’ season 50-7.
Columbia City closes its season with a 10-2 mark that was the first 10-win season in Columbia City history.
“This season is a testament to the kids in our program, especially our seniors.” Hudgins said. “It’s hard to see those seniors go, but we don’t want this season to be a one-hit wonder, so we will come back and work hard in the offseason and come back ready to go next year.”