Friday night, the Tide had a monumental task ahead of them. Lancaster Catholic not only is the defending state Class AA champion, but ranked number one in the state and only allowed 28 points all season, all in the first half of their previous seven games.
The Tide was up to the challenge, despite losing 56-20.
They showed early they could move the football against the state champs.
On their first possession, the Tide had a first down taken from them on a 5-yard penalty, which negated an 18-yard game. Forced to punt, Catholic, who had two turnovers in the game, fumbled the punt, giving the ball back to the Tide at the Catholic 44.
Following a 19-yard gain by Keenan Edmond and a 9-yard pass from Tyler Harrison to Michael Burke gave the Tide the ball at the Crusader 11. But the Tide could not score, giving the ball back to the state champs.
The two teams exchanged punts before Catholic got on the scoreboard. Behind the hard running of Roman Clay found the end zone on a 30-yard run on third and long by Brandon Hollister. Rhys McCall’s PAT gave Catholic a 7-0 lead.
Back came the Tide. On the third play following Catholic’s score, the duo of Harrison and Burke teamed or a 43-yard score. One problem, there was a yellow penalty flag, negating the score.
It got to be a problem. On fourth down, the center snap sailed over the punter’s head, giving Catholic the ball at the Tide 27. Three plays later, Clay found the end zone and Catholic led 14-0.
The route was on. Not.
Senior Johnny Vazquez electrified the crowd, returning the ensuing kickoff 89 yards and the Tide was back in the game, trailing 14-7.
Catholic countered with a 38-yard scoring pass from John Roda to Greg Kirchner increasing the Catholic lead to 21-7.
Columbia answered the score as Burke and Harrison hooked up on a 10-yard pass and Columbia trailed 21-14 with 7:27 left in the first half.
But Catholic scored two more touchdowns in the final seven minutes of the first half. One possession following the Tide score, Hollister scored the second of his three touchdowns on a 28-yard run and with Columbia moving the football after the Crusader score, Harrison looking for a big play was picked off by Catholic’s Sean Titus who returned the ball 60 yards for a score. The one touchdown game all the sudden was getting one-sided as Catholic led 35-14.
Catholic got the ball first in the second half and scored in three players as Roda and Kirchner combined again, this one on a score of 18yards.
Not done yet, the Tide moved to the Catholic six but Harrison’s fourth down pass fell short and the ball went back to Catholic.
Titus then scored his second touchdown of the game, hauling in a pass from Roda for a 30-yard score.
On Columbia’s next possession, Titus became a factor in the game again, picking off Harrison for a second tie, leading to Hollister’s third score of the game, an 11-yard run with 10 minutes left in the game, making the score, 56-20.
Columbia put some good numbers up against the Crusaders.
Vazquez returned two kicks for 147 yards; Harrison was 20-34-2 two scores and 193 yards passing.
Burke caught 9 passes for 87 yards and two scores, while Seth Lefever and Nick Nobile each caught five passes.