Two Lanier defenders try to take down a Columbus ball carrier despite the efforts of the Falcons’ Darion Mosley (21). Columbus beat Lanier 13-12 on Friday night. Photo by: Jennifer Mosbrucker/Dispatch Staff
September 20, 2019 10:25:54 PM
After he disembarked from his players' shoulders, after his yellow Falcons baseball cap was restored to his head, Columbus coach Joshua Pulphus stood on an emptying field and smiled.
Pulphus and the Falcons had just broken a 20-game losing streak by edging Lanier 13-12, and the first-year head coach was excited for his jubilant players first and foremost.
"They deserved it, because they worked so hard," Pulphus said. "They had a long summer, a hard summer. The kids played hard. They didn't quit. And they just kept fighting."
The Falcons (1-3) were stellar on special teams, came up with big plays on offense when they needed them and bore down on defense when they needed to. All that together toppled a skid that came just two days short of reaching two years.
"For us to get this first W," junior quarterback Ethan Conner said, "it's just a lot of confidence."
The Falcons wouldn't have much confidence -- and certainly not a win -- without the game Conner turned in Friday.
On the first play of the third quarter, Conner took the snap, faked a handoff to Jakaylin Lewis, fooled the entire Lanier defense and sprinted down the right side of the field to gain 47 yards and put the Falcons in the red zone.
He took off again on third and long, going up the middle to score Columbus' first touchdown.
"I think that was really big," Conner said. "It helped us change the momentum of the game and come out with a win."
Conner's play on the drive was instrumental, but the Falcons needed more. Lanier kept the tempo up, ran the ball consistently and retook the lead on Christopher Jones' second touchdown of the game, a go-ahead 2-yard score with 10 minutes, 35 seconds left in the game.
Michael Mosley handled the ensuing kickoff for Columbus after Jones was stuffed on a two-point conversion attempt, taking the ball down the left side.
As Conner and his teammates jumped up and down and screamed on the Falcons' sideline, Mosley stayed on his feet, spun away from a Bulldog defender and sprinted into the end zone, finishing off the 80-yard touchdown return.
"I still haven't seen Michael since he scored, so I don't know where he ran to," Pulphus said.
Mosley's score gave the Falcons a narrow lead at 13-12, and a stingy defense fought hard to hold it.
Columbus stuffed a fourth-down run by Kobie Benson with 6 minutes, 40 seconds left and stopped another fourth-down try by Jones from the Falcons' 26 with 1:40 to go.
"Those big stops, that's all you can ask for from guys," Pulphus said. "They stepped up, and they played well."
With the second stop, the Falcons were able to run out the clock to put the seal on a long-awaited first win.
"We're gonna enjoy this one, give them a 24-hour period and come back Monday ready to go," Pulphus said.
Columbus' next game is on the road against rival New Hope (2-3), which beat Aberdeen 51-0 on Friday.
Columbus 13, Lanier 12
Lanier 6 0 0 6 -- 12
Columbus 0 0 7 6 -- 13
7:03 L -- Christopher Jones 29 run (run failed)
10:39 C -- Ethan Conner 15 run (Craddieth kick)
10:35 L -- Christopher Jones 2 run (run failed)
10:22 C -- Michael Mosley 80 kick return (kick failed)
First downs 14 8
Rushes-yards 50-222 34-139
Passing yards 25 22
Comp.-Att.-Int. 3-5-0 5-10-1
Penalties-yards 6-50 10-75
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Sacks 1 0
RUSHING: Lanier -- Christopher Jones 25-144, Kobie Benson 15-42, Chrishaun Williams 9-33, Kaleb Carter 1-3; Columbus -- Ethan Conner 18-101, Jakaylin Lewis 7-15, Omari Williams 3-12, Devarkus Ramsey 3-8, Tawonn Troop 1-2, Karon Hawk 2-1.
PASSING: Lanier -- Chrishaun Williams 3-5, 25; Columbus -- Ethan Conner 5-10, 22.
RECEIVING: Lanier -- Michael Brown 3-25; Columbus -- Karon Hawk 1-13, Jakaylin Lewis 2-5, Omari Williams 1-3, Steven Turner 1-1.
Theo DeRosa reports on high school sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.