By JAMIE BAKER
FREMONT – On an unseasonably warm November night at Fremont’s Don Paul Stadium it was like watching a snowball roll downhill.
Patrick Henry put 13 points on the scoreboard before Columbia Station Columbia’s offense even got on the field as the Patriots’ buried the Raiders with a first-half avalanche of offense in a 56-15 regional semifinal win Saturday night.
With the victory, the Patriots (10-2) advance to next Saturday night’s Division V Region 18 final against LCC (12-0) or Liberty-Benton (11-1) at a site to be determined Sunday by the OHSAA.
Whether they were running the ball or passing the ball, it didn’t matter as the Patriots finished with 605 yards of offense unofficially. And, it was almost evenly divided with 314 yards by land and 291 through the air.
“We thought they were going to put a lot of guys on the line to stop the passing game so we wanted to loosen them up with the pass,” said Patrick Henry coach Bill Inselmann, describing the team’s offensive game plan.
“Our passing game was superb tonight, just superb. Gabe (Jones) and our receivers played a heck of a game.”
Jones, who torched the Columbia defense for 289 yards on 9 of 10 passing, came out firing hitting Derek Hoops and Zach Nye for 25 and 29-yard pass plays respectively on the Patriots’ opening drive.
Jones scored the first of eight PH touchdowns on the night on a 7-yard run.
The Patriots’ Brandon Cole recovered the ensuing kickoff when the line-drive squib kick bounced off a Columbia player.
On the very next play, Jones hooked up with Josh Petersen for a 37-yard touchdown pass and the Patriots’ led 13-0 just 2:29 into the game.
“That first quarter they just came out and blew our doors off, simple as that. Their line was big really big and really gave us a lot of problems tonight,” said Columbia coach Jason Ward, whose team saw its 10-game win streak snapped. “But this is good for our kids because now they know what they have to do in the weight room to get us our of the second round now.”
The Raiders (10-2) did show some signs of life early on offense.
Talented quarterback Jay Banyasz, who ran for more than 270 yards in last week’s playoff win over Archbold, engineered a 7-play, 99-yard scoring drive late in the first quarter. Banyasz connected with Austin Walaszewski on a 13-yard touchdown pass to make it 13-7 with 2:29 left in the first quarter.
But that was about the only highlight for the Raiders the rest of the way as the big boys in the trenches for Patrick Henry took over.
Giving Jones plenty of time to find receivers and opening big holes for running backs Calvin Palmer, Galen Powers and Adam Prigge, Patrick Henry’s lineman bulldozed Columbia’s defensive front.
Palmer, who finished with 123 yards on 15 carries, scored on runs of 1 and 8 yards. Prigge added a 17-yard touchdown run on a direct snap right up the gut and Jones fired touchdown passes of 55 yards to Hoops and 78 to Nye as the Patriots tacked on 30 points in the second quarter for a 49-7 halftime lead.
Both receivers finished with eye-popping numbers Saturday night. Hoops caught five passes for 120 yards while Nye snagged three catches for 109 yards.
But the biggest words of praise from Inselmann was for his offensive and defensive lines.
“The bottom line is this, our line play was exceptional tonight. We dominated the line play on both sides of the ball.
It’s easy to call plays when you dominate the line of scrimmage,” Inselmann said. “I’ve been coaching 22 years and it’s no fun at all trying to call plays when you don’t control both sides of the ball. The MVP of this game was our line, it was a great team effort.”
Patrick Henry tried to eat as much clock as they could in the second half after Calvin Palmer scored his third touchdown of the game with a 15-yard run on the Patriots’ first possession of the second half.
Defensively, the Patriots’ line dominated too.
Banyasz, who was harassed by Patrick Henry’s red-clad defenders all night finished with just 29 yards on 14 carries and was just 19 of 37 passing for 213 yards. The Raiders mustered just 56 yards rushing and 155 yards passing on the night.
1st Downs 26 15
Rushing 40-314 21-56
Passing 291 155
Att-Comp-Int 10-11-0 19-37-0
Fumbles 1-0 1-0
Punts 3-39.8 5-32.2
Penalties 9-75 2-23
Patrick Henry 19 30 7 0– 56
Columbia 7 0 8 0– 15
PH – Jones 7 run (Hoops kick)
PH – Petersen 37 pass from Jones (kick blocked)
COL – Walaszewski 13 pass from Banyasz (Zelinsky kick)
PH – Palmer 1 run (pass failed)
PH — Nye 78 pass from Jones (Palmer run)
PH – Palmer 8 run (kick blocked)
PH – Prigge 17 run (Palmer run)
PH – Hoops 55 pass from Jones (Palmer run)
PH – Palmer 15 run (Hoops kick)
COL – Edmisten 10 pass from Banyasz (Banyasz run)
RUSHING – Patrick Henry, Jones 7-54, Prigge 5-39, Palmer 15-123, Powers 4-77, Cole 8-17, Vandebussche 1-4. Columbia, Banyasz 14-29, Horn 3-22, Carter 1-1, Kleinhenz 3-4.
PASSING – Patrick Henry, Jones 9-10-0, 289 yards; Kolpien 1-1-0, 2 yards. Columbia, Banyasz 19-37-0, 289 yards.
RECEIVING – Patrick Henry, Hoops 5-120, Nye 3-109, Petersen 2-62, Columbia, Boey 6-44, Edmisten 4-45, Lamberrt 6-85, Carter 1-16, Walaszewski 2-23.