COLUMBIA CITY-Tonight, it was one of the most memorable nights fans had ever witnessed postseason football. Great football, Wild momentum swings, and thrilling finishes.
For the fans at Columbia City, they got to see one of the greatest sporting events in C. City history. The Eagles rallied from a late 21-14 deficit to claim their first sectional title since 1993, with a 27-21 OT win over Leo. Fans were packed to the nose, standing room only, screaming as loud as they can be, and ringing cowbells. The true concept of high school football north of Fort Wayne.
The first quarter began with both teams struggling to find their offensive mojo early. A grand total of 3 first downs were recorded through that quarter. The quarter ended with a Alex Holcomb fumble recovery, that was caused by Kamden Zeisloft stripping the ball out out of the Hands of a Columbia City player. Leo’s pass was later picked off by Stratton Fuller just as the quarter came to an end (remember his name).
The second quarter saw both teams starting to open up the offense. 2:48 into the second quarter, Josh Arntz punched it in the end zone after James Getts’ 43-yard catch was a yard short of a touchdown. Despite being down 7-0, Leo kept fighting as they’ve been doing all season long.
A excellent Leo punt put the Eagles at their own 39-yard line. Then another fumble happens, where Brett Fuller recovered this fumble. This would set up Leo’s first score of the game thanks in part to Jaxon Keller’s catch near the goal line, and a short run into the end zone by Aidan Monds. With 3:02 left in the first half, Leo had tied the game.
But Columbia City would have one more crucial drive before intermission, and that drive led to a buzzer beating score when Colton Pieper connected with James Getts for a 32-yard TD catch with 4 seconds left in the first half. Getts finished the game with 3 catches for 88 yards and that touchdown.
Columbia City led 14-7 going into the second half. It was go-time for Leo trying to take the momentum back in their hands. It would take Leo 9 minutes and 20 seconds of game clock before Leo found their response. Max Loeffler turned on the jets after a nice string of catches by Brock Schott and ran 31 yards to the house. Then 1 minute and 51 seconds later, Max Loeffler aka Mad Max broke free again for a 25-yard touchdown run.
Going into the fourth and final quarter, Leo led for the first time tonight 21-14 at Columbia City. The crowd was stunned, and Leo had all the momentum in the world. It was a perfect storm for a sectional championship that highlighted so many great moments throughout the sectional run. 4A Sectional 19 had fantastic football and with incredible finishes, and as you might expect, this one was the best of them all.
It was crunchtime for Columbia City and their seniors. All season long, people doubted them. No one expected them to win the NE8, yet they came back from 14 down to beat Norwell 25-24 at Norwell. Down 36-35 with less than a min to go at Wayne from Columbia City’s own end. They marched 79 yards to win the game 41-36.
Tonight, Columbia City had to comeback trailing 21-14 with less than 4 minutes to go against Leo’s big, physical defense. On Columbia City’s last drive of regulation, it was the Ethan Sievers as he led the Eagles to two key first downs and scored the game-tying touchdown run from 18 yards out.
The game was tied at 21, but there was still 3:25 left. That was plenty of time for Leo to get one last shot of calling game. Leo stopped the clock with two seconds left to set up Riley Stewart of a potential 31-yard field goal. A successful attempt would give Leo a sectional title. However, as you’ve seen in three of the last four games, Columbia City trusted in each other and took a chance. It worked.
Riley Stewart’s attempt was blocked by a diving Stratton Fuller, which saved Columbia City’s season and put this sectional championship into overtime. Leo had the ball first in OT, but the offense was unable to connect as their QB run was short of the goal line by two yards.
Columbia City would get the ball back and would convert on their only drive of OT. Ethan Sievers, once again, made another clutch play when he barreled his way over several linemen into the end zone from 2 yards out. Columbia City can celebrate a sectional championship for the first time since 1993.
Next Friday, Columbia City will host the 4A #7 Kokomo Wildkats for a regional championship. 11-1 Columbia City has never won a regional championship in football.