COLUMBIA — Columbia High senior Eric Read had the kind of Saturday that most football players can only dream about.
Read scored on a punt return, caught a touchdown pass, ran for a touchdown and also returned an interception for another score to help his team smack Mt. Carmel 57-22 in a Class 4A state playoff game.
Read also recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff and had two interceptions in his first defensive duty this season as the Eagles (9-1) flew into the second round.
Showing amazing scoring versatility, Read began his big day with a 79-yard punt return late in the first quarter that erased an early Mt. Carmel lead.
"Everybody did their job and got me to the end zone, it felt good," said Read, who called that his favorite play on a day he could easily submit as his personal highlight film.
Read also caught a 10-yard TD pass, scored on a 50-yard interception return and capped the afternoon with a 30-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter.
"What can you say...'Wow,' that's all I can say," Columbia coach Scott Horner said when asked to assess Read's performance. "The kid's explosive and that's the first time he's had to play defense all year with (Reed) Greatting going down; we had to put some different guys in different spots.
"He's just an explosive kid and he got us going with the punt return and the interception for a touchdown."
Bull-like Columbia running back Charles Farris ran for 130 yards and three TDs on 24 carries, with quarterback Logan Santanello contributing another 81 yards rushing.
Columbia receiver Adam Babb piled p six catches for 103 yards, including a 49-yard TD pass from Santanello during the Eagles' 27-point second quarter.
The Eagles defense wreaked havoc as well with seven turnovers, including five interceptions against Mt. Carmel's record-setting quarterback Reece Metcalf.
Metcalf -- who had thrown for 2,269 yards anad 21 TDs with only five interceptions all season -- completed 14 of 31 passes for 206 yards and one TD.
Columbia's defense had as many interceptions in one day as Mt. Carmel's opponents had in the previous nine weeks.
"Our scout team worked their butts off this week to give us the best look we could," Horner said when asked about preparing for Mt. Carmel's potent spread offense. "When you're loaded with senior kids and you can run about five different coverages and give them different looks, it confuses quarterbacks.
"It makes a huge difference.
Metcalf's 44-yard TD pass to Jared Piper less than three minutes into the game showed his quick-strike ability. But the Eagles answered quickly on a 23-yard field goal by Quinten Spivey and Read's momentum-shifting punt return.
Continually capitalizing on turnovers, the Eagles led 37-14 late in the first half on a pair of TDs by Read and Babb's touchdown reception.
Nearly every mistake made by the Golden Aces (6-4) wound up costing them big time.
"You just kind of scratch your head and go man, this doesn't look like the Aces' day," Mt. Carmel coach Darren Peach said of the first-half offensive explosion. "Then again I've never seen the end of the first half finish the way it did. We're down two scores thinking we're right where we wanted to be after the first half."
The Golden Aces tacked on a late TD in the first half when Levi Laws wound up the ball after at least two fumbles and scampered his way into the end zone.
The Eagles turned to Farris to help them run time off the clock in the second half and the Columbia defense did not allow another point.
"Defensively we played solid, we bent a little bit and bent a little bit," Horner said. "Then just when you thought we were letting them back in it, we came through. Offensively I thought we were as explosive today at times as we have been.
"It just shows how explosive we can be when we're playing well."
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2454.