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Columbia ‘Cap’italizes on NC TOs

Knights turn ball over seven times in 26-14 loss

Posted: October 25, 2013 12:07 p.m.
Updated: October 28, 2013 5:00 a.m.
C-I photo by Tom Didato/

NC TAILBACK WILLIAM JENKINS breaks loose for some of his 276 rushing yards in Thursday's loss to Columbia at Memorial Stadium.

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COLUMBIA – There is no way, even in this day and age of new math, that three feet equals 101 yards.
That equation, however, worked like a charm for Columbia High School.
With North Central one yard away from tying Thursday’s Region 3-AA meeting with Columbia at 12, Capital defensive back Darrius Richardson jumped an NC pass route in his own end zone and sprinted 101 yards the other way for what proved to be the winning touchdown in a 26-14 Columbia victory.
That score was followed by NC’s turning over the ensuing kickoff, via a fumble, which was recovered by Diante Petruso who took the loose ball into the end zone for a 41-yard scoring return. That came with 4:47 left in the third quarter and was only 18 seconds removed from Richardson’s pick-six as the hosts jumped to a semi-comfortable 26-6 advantage.
The loss, which dropped NC to 0-4 in 3-AA play and 3-6 overall, overshadowed a 276-yard rushing performance from Knights’ tailback William Jenkins. The junior carried the football 44 times, including running for 182 second half yards on 27 carries and a touchdown.
But not even Jenkins’ performance could overcome a night in which the guests lost three fumbles and were picked off four times. None, however, were as damaging as those which came on consecutive plays and resulted in a pair of Columbia touchdowns.
“We had our opportunities there in the first half, but didn’t take advantage of them. Then, we came out in the second half and thought we had some rhythm,” said NC head coach Louis Clyburn. “Then, we had an interception go back for a touchdown.
“We thought we would try a play-action pass down there and run it on second, third or fourth, if we needed to. That kid (Richardson) made a great play. That’s a tough one. I told the kids that one was on me. That was a bad call.
“And the stripped ball on the kickoff was a bizarre play … we just have to deal with it.”
The first of two first half Columbia interceptions came on a deep pass at its own two to end the second Knight offensive series. NC nearly got a pick itself when freshman quarterback Mike Williams threw a bubble screen from out of his end zone which ricocheted off the hands and chest of NC linebacker Omar Johnson, who already has three interception returns for touchdowns this season.
The guests cashed in on their third possession of the evening which started from the Capitals’ 33 following an eight-yard Jay Parks punt return. On second and 11 from the 34, quarterback Hunter Wyant found tight end Warren Moseley in the flat for a gain of 22 yards. Jenkins then went for 10 yards on three plays, setting up a first and goal from the two. After Parks was dragged down at the one, Wyant called his own number and scored on the quarterback sneak with 3:27 showing on the first quarter clock. The two-point pass fell incomplete as the Knights had jumped out to a 6-0 lead.
The Capitals, who had lined up in three different offenses in as many weeks, changed again on Thursday. Kemper Amick’s troops came out with two backs and two wide receivers as the NC defensive staff was forced to make changes on the fly to their scheme.
“I thought our defense did a great job of adjusting,” Clyburn said. “Coach Eck (NC defensive coach Guy Eckenroth) switched up where we were sending our guys through the gaps.”
The NC defense came up big in forcing a pair of incompletions after Columbia had a third and goal from the Knights’ six. That momentum did not last long as on the ensuing possession, the Knights lost a fumble at the CHS 36 with 7:49 left in the first half.
The Caps used a 41-yard Quinn Carolina run to the NC 14 on the second play of what was a quick, four-play 64-yard scoring march, capped by a six-yard run from Kimone Shaw on the counter to knot things at six with 5:52 left before the break.
Special teams, which have played a key role for NC all season, had a breakdown late in the first half which led to the Capitals’ go-ahead touchdown.
Julius Mack picked up a Jenkins punt at his own 37 and returned the ball 33 yards to the NC 30 with 4:23 to play in the half.
Carolina then went around right end for a gain of 21 to the Knights’ nine. On third and goal from the seven, Williams spotted Carolina out of the backfield with a pass which the tailback hauled in before being drilled by linebacker Reggie Outten. The hit helped propel Carolina into the end zone with the touchdown which came with 2:48 to play before intermission as the Caps carried a 12-6 lead into the locker room at halftime.
With two interceptions in the first half, Clyburn said his team decided to go to a more conservative approach in the second 24 minutes.
“Their corner was playing so far inside,” he said, “that we thought we could throw a play-action pass to the outside and two different times in the first half, the ball floated on us and their kids make a great play. We still had people open on the outside. Those were two bad calls. Those are on me.
“We still moved the ball efficiently. We ran the ball and we ran our play-action passes. After those first two (interceptions) in the first half, we quit trying to throw the long ball and concentrated on running the football.”
Running the ball meant the Caps would get a full dose of Jenkins and the 200-pounder went to work quickly after the Knights blocked a Columbia punt to open the second half and took control of the ball at their own 48.
Save for a six-yard Wyant-to-Mike Ostas completion on second and eight from midfield, Jenkins carried the ball on eight of the first nine plays of the drive, netting 45 yards. His three-yard carry on third and inches from the four set the ball at the one. That led to the 18-second span which turned this game on its ear with Richardson’s pick-six --- aided by a touchdown-springing block from Raycron Williams at the CHS 25 --- followed by Petruso’s fumble return for a touchdown.
Unfazed, the Knights went back to work in taking over from their own 36 on the kick which followed Petruso’s score, which made it 26-6.
The drive was pushed back to the 24 due to a holding call on the first play. An eight-yard Wyant-to-Ostas pass set up a second and 14 from the 32. Jenkins picked up 11 of those yards on the play before getting the call again and blasting through tacklers for 24 yards to the Columbia 33 on third and three.
Jenkins would take care of the final 31 yards on his own with runs of 15, six, three and the capper, a seven-yard run in which he carried people into the end zone with him with 2:06 left in the third quarter. Fullback Reggie Outten then dragged half of Memorial Stadium on his back in going over with the two-point conversion run as NC closed the gap to 26-14.
Jenkins, who has, unofficially, rushed for 1,413 yards in nine games, had his best game as a Knight on Thursday. It came six days after his having rushed for 198 yards in a loss to Eau Claire.
“Third and seven, he gets it,” Clyburn said of Jenkins. “Third and two, first and 10, he gets it.
 “At times, you could see their defense figuring it out. That’s when we went to the play-action pass. I thought our offensive staff did a great job of coming together, watching and picking those spots.
“We were able to stay ahead of them in our up-tempo (offense) and we were able to line up and see where we needed to go with the play, depending on where that end and outside linebacker were lining up.”
NC had a chance to cut into the Caps’ lead even further, only to have a controversial fumble call go against it after the Knights took a punt and drove to the Columbia 33. The sixth of the visitors’ seven turnovers came with 9:56 left in the game.
The Knights would get the ball once more and move from its 24 to the CHS 28, only to turn the ball over on downs with 3:31 left.
While his team made enough mistakes for two games, Clyburn did not lay the blame on his players. Instead, he said this loss was on him.
“Credit Columbia,” he said. “They’re a big, strong, athletic team. You can’t take anything away from Columbia High School. But I thought our kids came out and played hard and made some plays. You just can’t turn the ball over as many times as we did and expect to win a ballgame.
“I have to do a better job of coaching, that’s the bottom line. I feel bad for these seniors. It’s like I told them, I’ll take the blame for this one. I coached a bad ballgame.”

Knight Lights: North Central piled up 399 yards in offense with 301 of those coming on the ground …Wyant completed nine passes for 98 yards … Columbia had 189 of its 196 yards on the ground with Carolina going for 112 yards on 16 carries … In the second half, NC ran 44 plays for 241 yards in offense while the Capitals ran 16 plays and accumulated just 40 yards … In his 44 carries, Jenkins lost just one yard. He also caught a pass for an 18-yard gain ... The Knights close their home schedule Friday against Fairfield Central.

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