Gavin Bilbruck scored on a 3-yard run with 1 minute 32 seconds remaining to climax a miraculous comeback as Wesclin rallied for a 21-16 win over Columbia on Friday in a Cahokia Conference game.
The win breaks a 31-game Cahokia Conference winning streak for Columbia which hadn’t lost a league game since the 2011 season.
But thanks to a dominating performance by the Warriors offensive line, its Wesclin which remains undefeated in league play.
“We moved the football well in the first half. We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot,’’ a sweat-soaked Wesclin coach Ric Johns said. “We were down but not out. Our offensive line just did a tremendous job all night. This is a huge win for this football program. It’s the first time we’ve been 4-0 since I’ve been here and we beat a very good Columbia team.
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“Hopefully this will help carry us the rest of the season.’’
The Warriors (4-0, 2-0) trailed 16-0 with just over 11 minutes left in the third quarter, but got new life four minutes later when they scored their first points on a safety.
The Warriors offensive line then took over. Bilbruck scored on a 2-yard run with 28 seconds remaining in the third quarter to cut the lead to 16-9 and when senior RJ Kattenbraker tallied on an 11-yard run with 7:02, the Warriors were within 16-15.
Wesclin then forced a Columbia punt and took over on its own 21-yard line with 5 minutes 28 seconds left.
A 30-yard run from Kattenbraker kick-started the go-ahead drive for Wesclin. Bilbruck ripped off runs of nine and seven yards and when Kattenbraker ran 13 yards, the Warriors had the ball inside the 20-yard line.
Bilbruck then gave his team its first lead two minutes later.
“We moved the football well all night. Our offensive line was tremendous as it has been all season. It dominated,’’ quarterback Josh DeMage said. “We’ve put in the work and tonight it paid off.”
Columbia (2-2, 1-1) which got a pair of touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Nic Horner, didn’t quit after Wesclin took the lead.
The Eagles marched inside Warriors territory but Horner had his pass picked off by Warriors linebacker Tyler Harbison with under 40 seconds left to seal the outcome.
The Eagles played without star running back Colton Byrd who suffered a knee injury on the first possession and did not return. Byrd, who entered the game with 556 yards and 10 touchdowns, went down hard on his second carry of the game.
“We don’t want to say until we get him to the doctor but the preliminary reports aren’t good,’’ Columbia coach Scott Horner said of Byrd’s injury. “They beat us up front all night. They wanted it more than we did tonight. We’re playing with a lot of kids out of position because we’re so banged up, but give Wesclin credit. Their kids played well.’’
Josh Marion, who had only three yards on two attempts entering play on Friday, picked up the slack. The 5-7 140-pound junior had 48 yards on eight carries in the first two quarters.