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Discoverers hound Huskies in big road win

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Liam Blaser

Columbus High junior Liam Blaser sheds a Kearney tackler for a big gain last week against Kearney. Friday at Northwest he intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown and added two more touchdown runs on offense in a 55-28 Discoverer road win at Omaha Northwest.

Columbus High football created points in all three phases of the game and won its sixth game in a row for the first time in 21 years on Friday when it went to Omaha and knocked off Northwest 55-28.

Columbus started it with a pix-six on the second play of the game and never looked back. The Discoverers also returned a punt for a touchdown, ran for three touchdowns and passed for two more on a night in which four different members of the roster scored two touchdowns.

Junior Liam Blaser had the interception at the Northwest 24 that he took to the end zone, scored on an 11-yard run for a 13-0 lead on the next drive and made it 48-14 in the third on an 8-yard run. Junior Adoriyan Daniels made it 20-7 on a 10-yard run in the first quarter then caught a 43-yard pass from Brody Mickey for a score and a 41-14 lead at halftime.

Mickey found Tanner Esch for a 26-yard scoring strike and a 27-7 lead early in the second quarter. Blake Thompson took one to the house from 51 yards on a punt return in the second quarter and caught a 14-yard pass for the final points with 8:15 left in the third.

Columbus generated 396 yards of offense, less than what might be assumed from 55 points, but the Discoverers amassed that total on just 50 plays - almost 8 yards per play.

The defense limited Northwest to less than 300 yards of offense, forced six punts and only gave up a completion percentage of 40%.

"It was a team win. We played a lot of different guys. When you look at our stats you don't see guys like Ernest Hausmann and Riley Iburg at the type. You see guys like Adoriyan Daniels and Tanner Esch," coach Craig Williams said. "A lot of guys got in during key situations and played well for us."

Northwest threatened to hang around early when it answered Columbus' 13-0 lead with a drive capped by a 2-yard touchdown run and a 13-7 score with 5:21 left in the first quarter. But CHS answered with back-to-back scoring drives to end the first and start the second then created instant offense with Thompson's punt return.

Northwest answered once more just over two minutes after that play on a 7-yard run but Mickey found Daniels just over a minute later and sent Columbus into the locker room with a 27-point halftime advantage.

If there were any thoughts of a miraculous comeback, Columbus extinguished those on back-to-back scoring drives to start the third quarter.

"A couple of weeks ago we were in the same situation (against Lincoln Northeast) and we didn't do that in the second half," Williams said. "We approached it a little bit different as a coaching staff, and I think it worked out well for us. We mixed a few guys at a time, and that made it easier for (the backups) to come in and get the calls figured out and get in the right spots. I think that was the right approach. ... To come out and score like that in the third quarter really put it away for us."

The win made Columbus 6-1 and 3-0 in the district standings. The Discoverers are into the playoffs already with a guaranteed spot no worse than second in the district. But they can win it outright next week when No. 2 Bellevue West comes to town.

Northwest seemed like a prototypical trap game situation following an emotional win over Kearney, a road game at a 1-4 team then the Thunderbirds at home the week after. But Williams has credited his group all year long with an approach of coming to practice and preparing the same way regardless of who's up next. This most recent win might be the most obvious example of that.

"We're not ever going to be that program that's rolling off 30 wins in a row knowing we can just step off the bus and beat somebody; we've got to work for everything," Williams said. "Our kids are willing to do that, our coaching staff is willing to do that and, to me, it's more validating to go out there and have to work for it. ... They were locked in on what we had to do. Our kids just executed the game plan."

Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sports@columbustelegram.com.

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