On a night when Stockbridge couldn’t seem to get out of its own way, Columbia just couldn’t quite figure out how to take advantage.
Despite committing four turnovers – including two inside the Columbia 5-yard line – the Class AAAA No. 5 Tigers were able to ride Malik Bryan’s 196 rushing yards to an 18-7 win.
Stockbridge (3-0) never led until well into the fourth quarter, due to a slew of mistakes, including the quartet of turnovers, a holding penalty that called back a touchdown run and a missed extra point following its first score.
But Bryan – who carried the ball 31 times and scored all three of the Tigers’ touchdowns – wasn’t going to let them lose.
“If we see a team paying so much attention to me, why not make them tackle me? Why not make them come after me?” Bryan said. “I love getting the ball; I love being a workhorse. It makes me feel better.”
And it was his 20-yard run, ending with a head-first leap into the end zone, that finally put the Tigers on top of the upset-minded Eagles (1-2) with 7:29 left in the fourth quarter, 12-7.
But even Bryan had his issues, giving away one of those fumbles inside the Columbia 5 that nearly ended up costing Stockbridge the game.
It’s a problem he said the team will need to keep working on if they want to live up to the lofty early-season ranking they’ve attained.
“That comes from practice,” Bryan said. “Lack of focus in practice leads to lack of execution in games. That’s basically what it was.”
Before the fumbles, it was just plain not playing well that was killing the Stockbridge offense early.
Bryan only had 7 yards on his first 3 carries, and the Stockbridge offense struggled mightily to move the ball for much of the first half.
The Tigers were almost completely stymied until they switched to an exclusively triple-option attack late in the second quarter, and they rode that for most of the rest of the game.
That change in strategy led to their first sustained movement of the game, their first touchdown, a fumble deep in Columbia territory and the vast majority of Bryan’s yards on the ground, as Columbia’s defense never figured out how to stop the triple-option game. While running the triple option, Bryan averaged 6.5 yards per carry.
Columbia was led on the ground by Terrell Badilishamwalimu (9 carries, 40 yards), who also scored their only touchdown on a 7-yard second-quarter run.
S 0 0 6 12 – 18
C 0 7 0 0 – 7
C – Terrell Badilishamwalimu 7 run (Chris Beatty kick)
S – Malik Bryan 19 run (kick missed)
S – Bryan 20 run (run failed)
S – Bryan 5 run (pass failed)