Nineteen straight points in the second and third quarters allowed Omaha Central to pull away from Columbus High in a 45-28 Eagles win over the Discoverers on Friday in Omaha.
In a game that was delayed an hour and 20 minutes due to lightning, it looked like it was CHS that would strike first. But miscues on the first and second Discoverer possession left Columbus regretful for a better start and behind 12-0.
Columbus cut that in half just about midway through the second but then fell in a 24-point hole over the next 16 minutes and never came closer than the 17-point final margin.
"It's a team that we feel like we could go back out with and compete with on a nightly basis," coach Craig Williams said. "We just didn't execute well enough in the first half to stay within 17 points, and I think we're better than that."
Early mistakes included a holding call that brought back a 50-yard touchdown play on the first drive that would have given Columbus the first points. On the second CHS possession, the Discoverers were again putting together first downs and building toward a potential answer when penalties derailed hopes for points.
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Central answered the first drive with a 5-yard touchdown run with 4:55 left in the first quarter then put together another scoring drive to start the second that ended in a 9-yard score. Both extra points missed.
Columbus finally avoided mistakes and cut into the lead with 6:49 left before halftime when quarterback Brody Mickey found Rylee Iburg for a 6-yard touchdown strike.
But Central put together two more scoring drives before halftime, went into the break ahead 24-7, then generated another touchdown on its second possession of the second half for a 31-7 lead.
The two teams alternated the next five touchdowns. Trailing by 17 and with Central dominating time of possession, Columbus never seriously threatened the outcome after halftime.
The early mistakes plus a dropped pick-six and battles lost in the air on deep balls made it a long night for the Discoverers.
"If we could have our first two drives back...and clean up some penalties, at worst, we're down by three going into halftime," Williams said.
Ernest Hausmann caught a 12-yard pass to make it 31-14 with 2:30 left in the third. Central answered with a 9-yard run capping an extended drive with 5:41 left in the game. CHS scored the next drive on a 5-yard run, Central immediately responded with a 95-yard touchdown run then Braylon VanCura capped the night on a 17-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Pelowski with 1:51 showing on the clock.
Columbus put together 261 yards of total offense with 168 on the ground and 78 by junior Caydn Kucera on eight carries. Mickey was 6 of 13 throwing with 72 yards and one touchdown. Hausmann caught five of those for 63 yards. The Discoverers finished without a turnover but 10 penalties for 95 yards.
Central rushed for 437 yards on 54 carries and threw for 101 for a total of 538 yards of offense. Quarterback Jaylen Davis had 145 yards on nine carries and three touchdowns.
"There's some things we've got to do. Our coaching staff, there's a few things we've got to figure out," Williams said. "...The kids really battled the whole game. You've just got to bring it in the first quarter against really good football teams. But we saw some encouraging things out there, and we'll be all right."
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.