Bowling Green struggles against Columbia

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Things didn’t go Bowling Green’s way Friday in a 36-7 season opening loss to Columbia Academy.

Host Bowling Green got off to a rough start and trailed 15-0 just 9:18 into the contest.

The Buccaneers went three-and-out on its opening possession before Columbia drove 64 yards on 10 plays, nine runs, and tallied on a 12-yard touchdown run by Heath Greenlee. Caleb Pounds hit the extra point and it was 7-0 with 6:22 left in the first quarter.

The nine runs on the opening drive was an indication of how the rest of the contest would go.

Columbia ran the ball 51 times for 430 yards (8.4 yards per attempt), led by Greenlee’s 178 yards, and they finished with 506 yards of total offense on 56 plays.

The Bucs next drive ended on fourth down when Brandon Graham intercepted a Bowling Green pass.

A flag moved the ball to Columbia’s 40 and the Cougars took it 60 yards in just two plays.

The first was a nine-yard run by Greenlee, followed by a 51-yard pass from Wiley Cleland to John Miles McNeese for six more. Cleland then ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 15-0 at the 2:42 mark.

It stayed that way until late in the second quarter when Bowling Green picked up some momentum.

The Bucs punted and Tyler Cunningham’s punt was fumbled and Bowling Green’s Darren Lockhart was there for the recovery at Columbia’s 27.

Bowling Green’s offense got going. Brady Goings found Connor McCain for seven yards. Goings then scrambled for seven more. On first down from the 13, Grant Alexander ran for five. Following an incompletion, Goings found Matt Pierce for the eight-yard touchdown and it was 15-6.

Goings then nailed the extra point and Bowling Green was back in the game and trailed by one possession at 15-7 with 1:27 left.

Columbia drove to the Bucs 14, but an incompletion ended the half with Bowling Green down 15-7.

Columbia received the second-half kickoff and essentially put the game away. The Cougars scored on a one-yard run by McNeese with 8:43 left. Cleland hit Luke McKenzie for the two and it was 23-7 at the 8:43 mark.

The score was set up by a 39-yard run from McNeese on the first play of the second half. McNeese posted 128 rushing yards.

Bowling Green punted in three plays and Columbia scored on the fifth play of the ensuing drive when McNeese threw a halfback pass to McKenzie. McCain blocked the PAT, keeping it 29-7 with 4:27 showing on the third quarter clock.

Bowling Green coach David Currier said Columbia was a little more physical than his club was and said the Cougars definitely had more speed.

“We’ve to get in better condition, keep working and keep playing hard,” Currier said. “That’s all you can do.”

Currier said his team made a lot of mistakes like turning the ball over.

“We can’t do that,” Currier said. “We thought at half, we had closed the gap a little bit. It was only 15-7, but they were too strong for us. We just couldn’t handle it at this point, but we’re going to keep working and we’re going to get better.”

It stayed 29-7 until the early part of the fourth quarter when Colton Sandifer, who had 100 yards rushing, scored on a seven-yard run. McNeese applied the extra point and it was 36-7.

Columbia had a chance to add one more, but with first-and-goal from the three, the Cougars knelt down four times, giving it back to Bowling Green with 3:33 left on the Bucs’ seven.

Bowling Green finished with 138 yards of total offense. 91 of them came on the ground. Cody Wilhite led the Bucs rushing with 32 yards on five carries. Alexander tallied 28 yards on seven attempts.

Goings threw for 42 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. McCain caught four passes for 27 yards.

The Bucs will attempt to even their record when they are back in action Friday, taking to the road to play against Oak Forest Academy.