By KEVIN HARRIS
The Jeffersonville football team had high hopes entering its Hoosier Hills Conference showdown with Class 4A No. 1 Columbus East on Friday night.
But those expectations were dampened mightily by the powerful Olympians and the buckets of rain that poured on Stafford Field.
East clinched its ninth consecutive conference title with a 41-6 trouncing of the Red Devils. The Olympians extended their HHC-winning streak to 41 games. Jeff (5-3, 4-2 HHC) committed seven turnovers, six of which were fumbles.
“Probably people coming into the year said that this is the year to get East,” Olympians’ coach Bob Gaddis said. “But we had a great offseason, the eight seniors on our team hung in there and led us to another championship.”
Jeff coach Lonnie Oldham said the wet conditions had a major effect on his squad.
“We practice in stuff like this and I never had any concerns before,” Oldham said. “We just had trouble hanging onto the football. We’ll just go back and just cross this one off. Anytime we get an opportunity to practice in the rain, we’re going to be outside.”
Columbus East used a methodical drive in the first quarter to score its first touchdown. The Olympians (8-0, 6-0) moved the ball 50 yards on nine plays, all runs, which was capped off by a 7-yard touchdown run by East quarterback Alex Cowan at the 6:02 mark of the opening stanza.
The Olympians’ next two touchdowns were results of two Red Devil fumbles inside the Jeff 10-yard line.
After East’s John Busack recovered a bad exchange between Jeff quarterback Tyler Fridley and Red Devil running back Austin Hines at the Jeff 9, running back Markell Jones made a 9-yard TD scamper to extend the Olympians’ lead to 14-0.
On the second play of Jeff’s next possession, Hines fumbled around the Red Devil 10. Four plays later, Cowan made a 1-yard TD plunge on fourth-and-goal to increase the Olympians’ lead to 21-0.
Another Red Devil turnover resulted in East’s fourth touchdown. Lined up in the shotgun formation, the snap went high as Fridley tipped the ball. The pigskin then got kicked into the end zone, where it was recovered Olympian junior Christian Wichman with 29.2 seconds remaining before halftime. East’s extra-point kick got blocked, as it led 27-0 at the half.
Jeff finally got on the board with 3:19 remaining in the third quarter. Junior wide receiver Dalton Adkins caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Fridley to slice the Red Devils’ deficit to 27-6. The TD capped off a seven-play, 35-yard drive.
East’s defense got its second touchdown of the night with 8:34 remaining in regulation. With the ball at the Jeff 12, the snap went over Fridley’s head again and landed in the end zone. That is where Olympian defensive end Brock Patterson recovered the ball for a TD, extending the lead to 34-6.
Following the Red Devils’ sixth fumble on their own 5, Cowan entered the end zone for the third time on a 1-yard TD run on third-and-goal.
“We gave them three scores. We gave them one good drive,” Oldham said. “We just can’t play in a game like this. The weather was predicted for a little rain, but this is a monsoon. Nobody is prepared for this. We might have some kids with hypothermia - that’s how bad it is right now. They were shivering and shaking on the sidelines and I was, too.”
East compiled 208 total yards, all on the ground. Cowan rushed 30 times for 76 yards, Wichman had 13 carries for 66 yards and Jones had 61 rushing yards on 16 carries.
Jeff gained only 76 total yards. Hines had 22 carries for 63 yards. Fridley was 4-of-11 passing for 21 yards and one interception.
“We’ve got a good team. I’m not depressed or anything,” Oldham said. “Obviously, you couldn’t throw the ball in those conditions. It was definitely not what we planned. But that’s football.”
Jeff will travel to Jennings County next Friday.
COLUMBUS EAST 41, JEFFERSONVILLE 6
Jeffersonville 0 0 6 0— 6
Columbus East 14 13 0 14—41
CE — Alex Cowan 7 run (Paul Baker kick), 6:02.
CE — Markell Jones 9 run (Baker kick), :37.8.
CE — Cowan 1 run (Baker kick), 11:09.
CE — Christian Wichman fumble recovery in end zone (kick blocked), :29.2.
J — Dalton Adkins 10 pass from Fridley (kick failed), 3:19.
CE — Brock Patterson fumble recovery in end zone (Baker kick), 8:34.
CE — Cowan 1 run (Baker kick), 3:16.