COLUMBUS — It’s a finish Columbus fans will be happily talking about for some time to come. And who can blame them?
Sophomore Joe Morris’ 42-yard touchdown pass to senior Andy Vujnovich with 20 seconds remaining in the game capped a wild finish as the Cardinals rallied for a 21-14 non-conference victory over Adams-Friendship on Friday night. It was the first win of the season for Columbus and the first under new head coach Calvin Zenz.
The Cardinals (1-3), who held a 13-0 lead at halftime, saw Adams-Friendship (0-4) get back in the game on its first drive of the second half. The Green Devils marched 52 yards and scored on a 33-yard pass from Cole Lamont to Teagan Kotlowski to cut the score to 13-7 with 9:29 left in the quarter.
The Cardinals then controlled the ball for the next 10 minutes but saw their drive end when Vujnovich’s 19-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright with 10:57 left in the game.
After an exchange of possessions, the Green Devils got the ball back on their own 9 with 4:13 to play and still down by six. Junior quarterback Cole Lamont had plans for a dramatic finish of his own. He found junior Tim Hurns on a swing pass and the 5-foot-8, 165-pound back took the toss and raced 80 yards down the Columbus sideline before being tackled on the Cardinals 11 with 3:36 remaining in the game.
The Green Devils took a 14-13 lead with 1:16 left in the game when Lamont found Logan Smith in the end zone from 12 yards out on a fourth-and-5 play, setting up Columbus’ last-minute heroics.
Morris looked anything but a sophomore on the final drive. He hit Vujnovich in stride on the winning TD as Vujnovich outran the Green Devil defenders.
“I was so impressed on how he (Morris) came through in the clutch,” Zenz said. “If you’re going to be the quarterback in our offense, you literally lead the team. We ask so much of our quarterback and for a young sophomore to come in and do the things that he did was impressive. I was very proud of him.”
Morris started Friday night in place of senior quarterback Connor Manthey, who was nursing a shoulder injury suffered the week before. Morris hit on 12 of 15 passes for 130 yards and also rushed for 38 yards on five carries, including a 12-yard TD run to get Columbus on the board in the first quarter.
The Cardinals’ defense, which forced five turnovers in the game, put Columbus’ second touchdown on the board when Trent Casper intercepted Lamont and returned it for a 25-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Adams-Friendship outgained Columbus 315-274 on the night. Lamont finished with 244 yards passing, while Vujnovich had three receptions and 89 yards for the Cardinals.
Columbus’ Ben Waldo finished with 79 yards on the ground on 24 attempts. He also added a two-point conversion run on the Cardinals’ winning touchdown.
“I’m proud of the guys on how they worked and fought,” Zenz said.
Columbus opens Capitol North Conference play next Friday at Watertown Luther Prep.
COLUMBUS 21, ADAMS-FRIENDSHIP 14
Adams-Friendship 0 0 7 7 — 14
Columbus 7 6 0 8 — 21
C — Joe Morris 12 run (Andy Vujnovich kick)
C — Trent Casper 25 interception return (kick failed)
AF — Teagan Kotlowski 33 pass from Cole Lamont (Braedyn Quinell kick)
AF — Logan Smith 12 pass from Cole Lamont (Braedyn Quinell kick)
C — Andy Vujnovich 47 pass from Joe Morris (Ben Waldo run)
First downs — AF 12, C 15. Rushes-Yards — AF 18-71, C 39-144. Passing yards — AF 244, C 130. Passing (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — AF 10-19-4, C 12-15-1. Fumbles lost — AF 1-1, C 0-0. Penalties-yards — AF 4-30, C 7-60.
Rushing: AF — Tim Hurns 16-68; C — Ben Waldo 24-79. Passing (Comp-Att.-Yds-TD-INT): AF — Cole Lamont 10-19-244-2-4; C — Joe Morris 12-15-130-1-1. Receiving: AF — Tim Hurns 2-84; C — Andy Vujnovich 3-89, Trent Casper 5-26.