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Morning Sun
  • Colgan gets back on the right track

  • The St. Mary’s Colgan Panthers dominated field position and turnovers during their Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League clash Friday night with the Columbus Titans and won the first high school football meeting of the schools, 30-7.

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  • The St. Mary’s Colgan Panthers dominated field position and turnovers during their Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League clash Friday night with the Columbus Titans and won the first high school football meeting of the schools, 30-7.
    “There were five turnovers (forced) tonight,” Colgan head coach Chuck Smith said. “Every time I talk and they say ‘What do you have to win the game?’ and I tell ‘em ‘Field position and turnovers.’ That was the key tonight. They gave us the ball in good field position and boy, they wouldn’t let us down, they were stingy. They have a good defense and it’s a real good win for us. I thought the kids played a whole ballgame. I thought they played real well.”
    Columbus junior A.J. Randle scored the first points of the game on a 76-yard touchdown run. Randle, listed at wide receiver, took a pitch from sophomore quarterback Nate Bole on an option play at the 32 and finished the rest.
    Columbus broke its only scoring play on a third-and-6, taking over after Colgan kicker Aaron Twarog missed a 29-yard field goal.
    However, after that Randle play, Columbus scored no additional points and had 121 additional yards, six additional first downs and committed four additional turnovers — two fumbles and two interceptions, plus a turnover-on-downs on a Bole fake punt run stuffed for a 6-yard loss by a swarming Colgan defense.
    Luke Marquardt and Tucker Hoffman intercepted Bole and Christian Cedeno recovered and returned a fumble on the last play of the first half, one tackle away from a TD and bigger Colgan halftime lead than 13-6. The Marquardt interception derailed a long Columbus drive in the third quarter.
    “Our defense has a lot of potential and for us to do well for the next three games, our defense is going to have to play real well,” Smith said. “Coach Cichon (defensive coordinator Wayne Cichon) does a great job and boy, I think we hit better tonight. I really do believe that and that’s something we have to do.”
    Colgan senior receiver Nate Grimaldi enjoyed an 18th birthday to remember with four catches for 71 yards and one TD. He caught the first Colgan score of the game on a 26-yard bullet from senior quarterback Dyson Dechant. Grimaldi added catches of 19, 10 and 16 yards, all good for first downs.
    Senior running back Conner Dayton gained 119 yards on 19 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 42 and 15 yards.
    Colgan scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, taking advantage of good field position and a worn-down Columbus team. Twarog made a 27-yard field goal and then came TDs by Colton Gilbert on a 27-yard reverse and Dayton on a 15-yard rumble with 5:27 remaining.
    “When we got up 16 points, teams are able to wear down a little easier,” Smith said. “I give it to Columbus. It was a good win for us and we beat a good Columbus team. Columbus makes us a better league. We’re real proud that they’re in our league.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Colgan ends a rare two-game losing streak and improves to 4-2 overall and 3-2 in the CNC. The Panthers open district play next week on the road against Galena (4-2, 3-2 CNC), which lost 41-12 to CNC leader Girard on Friday and 19-16 to Columbus the previous week.
    “We know we’re going to face a tough Galena team next week,” Smith said. “Real glad for the kids. Good win and next week will be a little bit different but we’re looking forward to playing Galena. They’ve been a real good program the last few years and they’ve always been a tough ballclub.”

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