Buckeye's Michael Knoll is hugged by Anthony Watkins after making his second interception of the game against Columbia, setting up a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. Aaron Josefczyk
YORK TWP. — When Columbia quarterback Jared Bycznski’s pass fell helplessly out of the back of the end zone as time expired, Buckeye signal caller Jacob Doerge found himself overcome with emotion.
That’s how big this Week 5 game was for the Bucks, as they welcomed the Raiders into Edwin Steingass Field and escaped with a 38-35 Patriot Athletic Conference cross-division win.
“This is the first time I’ve experienced it,” Doerge said. “As soon as that timer went out, I started crying. I can’t explain it. I’m just emotional right now.
“That’s a good team. It was such a close game. For me, for my first year as quarterback, it was so big for me, for the team and for our confidence going forward. It really meant a lot, especially with it being homecoming game.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. We were trying our best to be prepared for it, but even then, they still threw us on our heels. We fought tooth and nail. They did a spectacular job. It was an outstanding game.”
The back-and-forth contest looked like it was going to go on all night, as Brandon Coleman (17 carries, 191 yards, 3 TDs; 4 catches, 59) and Columbia (3-2) did everything it could to erase a 10-point deficit with 4:26 remaining.
The Raiders almost did by scoring with 3:55 left, getting the ball back and driving to the Buckeye 25 before time expired.
In fact, had Bucks end Logan Schulz not gotten in the face of Bycznski, who knows what might have happened on the final play.
“When we needed it, we really stepped up,” Schulz said. “We had to come out and stop them every time. That was our mindset the whole night. It’s exhilarating. At the end, I was so happy. It’s just a great experience, a great feeling.”
While Doerge (24 carries, 110 yards, 2 TDs; 7-for-12, 70 yards), Dom Monaco (12 carries, 98 yards, 2 TDs) and Anthony Watkins (7 carries, 50 yards; 4 catches, 48 yards; 85-yard kickoff return) gave the Raiders fits, defense is where Buckeye (4-1) earned its lunch money.
Four Columbia turnovers led to 17 Buckeye points, as Michael Knoll (2 INTs), Archer Treece (2 fumble recoveries) and Schulz (2 sacks) made the Raiders earn every yard.
“They’re a really, really good team,” Buckeye coach Greg Dennison said. “We knew we were going to have to do a lot of things well, knew we were probably going to have to outscore them and score a lot of points because their offense is that good.
“Our kids feel really good about this. This is a really good win for us. We told our kids after the game that we gave up some things defensively, but we made plays when we had to make plays.”
Arguably the biggest came in a four-play span.
Columbia stuffed the Bucks on the 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal and looked like it had momentum until Knoll made his second interception, on a tipped pass at the line, to give Buckeye the ball at the Columbia 7.
One play later, Doerge scored.
Undaunted, the Raiders moved the ball to midfield, but Bailey Coleman was decleated by Ryan Steppenbacker and Treece recovered at the Buckeye 45 with 9:26 left.
Clay Gunkelman kicked a 32-yard field goal for the 10-point cushion that proved to be the most important points of the game.
“It’s just big time,” Knoll said. “Our defensive guys stepped up when we needed them, and it led us into keeping the ball longer and shaving the clock. They didn’t have enough time to come back.
“We definitely needed to stop (Brandon) Coleman. He’s a great running back. Columbia, they’re never going to lose another game after this, not in their conference. This just shows we can compete with the best and get a playoff win.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.
Buckeye 38, Columbia 35
COLUMBIA 7 14 7 7 — 35
BUCKEYE 7 14 7 10 — 38
C — Cole Schwartz 1 run (Ben Skowronsky kick), 8:48.
B — Dom Monaco 6 run (Clay Gunkelman kick), 3:51.
C — Brandon Coleman 2 run (Skowronsky kick), 10:57.
B — Anthony Watkins 85 kickoff return (Gunkelman kick), 10:44.
B — Jacob Doerge 14 run (Gunkelman kick), :37.
C — Coleman 18 run (Skowronsky kick), 0:16.
B — Monaco 1 run (Gunkelman kick), 7:01.
C — Coleman 33 run (Skowronsnky kick), 5:28.
B — Doerge 7 run (Gunkelman kick), 10:26.
B — Gunkelman 32 field goal, 4:26.
C — Bailey Coleman 27 pass from Jared Bycznski (Skowronsky kick), 3:55.