August 31, 2014 12:59:53 AM
STEENS -- Facing third-and-25 just short of midfield, the Winona Christian football team went conservative and handed the ball to Justin Burkett off tackle.
Leading 8-0 with nearly three minutes remaining until the end of the first quarter at Columbus Christian Academy, there wasn't any need to get greedy.
Fifty-five yards later, though, the run proved to be anything but conservative, as Burkett scored and kick-started a dominant ground game that paved the way for a 46-6 win.
The score was followed by a string of mistakes by the Rams, including turnovers and blown reads on both sides of the ball. Rattled, the Rams (1-1) conceded touchdowns on the Stars' next three possessions.
"I don't know if it's one play. They could have scored at will if they wanted to because of the way we're backing up on defense," Columbus Christian coach Greg Watkins said. "If we don't step up and play our positions, it's gonna be a long year."
Watkins was particularly furious with his defensive linemen, who struggled to hold the edge against Winona Christian's wing-back sweeps. The Stars rang up four runs of 20 runs or more and scored on each of their possessions in the first half en route to a 32-0 halftime lead.
The Stars (1-1) finished with 364 yards.
"We just did not play very disciplined ball on defense," Watkins said. "We did not do our assignments on the outside, we backed up at the linebacker position -- did that all night.
"It was effort and blown assignments. We were crashing in, knowing their power game was off tackle to bounce outside. It's on film: read for their running backs. Their running backs are designed to run it off tackle with their linebacker. If the end crashes in and the linebacker crashes in, they'll bounce it outside. Safeties sat back and watched. Corners didn't get off blocks. It was very disappointing."
Stars running back Stuart Dickerson had two touchdowns in the first half. He said his team's 9-8 last-second loss to J.Z. George last week inspired them to bounce back.
"That fueled us a little bit," Dickerson said. "It was motivation. We tried to put it to them as good as we could. We checked up a bit, but our motive was to come out and play hard."
The Stars also rang up an 85-yard interception return by Blake Greene and a 74-yard kickoff return by Evan Woods.
On both plays, Watkins screamed for his players to continue chasing the ball, but was left to rue his players' inability to do it.
"It's my responsibility to get them ready, and they weren't," Watkins said. "I take that responsibility. Hopefully, we'll learn from this one."
Watkins said his squad played with better urgency in the second half, as evidenced by the 129 yards passing by Dawson Shaw and big chunk plays by KC Cunningham.
"If there's a positive, it's that this wasn't a district game," Watkins said. "I'd much rather have this happen now than when we're in district play."
Columbus Christian will play next week at Carroll Academy.
2. Chisolm driven to help disc golf grow in Columbus LOCAL SPORTS
3. Gordon hopes U.S. women can help MSU grow COLLEGE SPORTS