Players on both sidelines were wobbly in the legs after racking up 87 total points and 955 yards of offense.
But there was Columbia quarterback Greg Long on the sideline counting off push ups with the cheerleaders, one for every point the Eagles scored in their 57-30 win over Greenville in the first round of the Illinois 4A football playoffs.
“Let’s just put it this way way, I like pushups and I like cheerleaders,” Long said.
If anyone should have been gassed it would be Long, who did a little bit of everything to contribute to the Columbia victory.
The senior completed 11-of-19 passes for a season-high 282 yards and three touchdowns, ran for another score, kicked field goals of 33 and 48 yards, intercepted a pass and punted four times inside the Greenville 10 yard line. He also handled kickoff and punt return duty.
“I have to give the credit to cross fit and our athletic trainer Jim Sepich,” said Long, admitting that he “was running on fumes by the third quarter. Conditioning is a big part of our game because so many guys contribute on both sides. “
The Eagles, who average 44.9 points per game, amassed 351 of its 493 total yards in the first half. They’ll be back home for a second-round game next week against No. 7 Canton (8-2).
“We weren’t as aggressive up front as I would have liked,” said Columbia coach Scott Horner. “The good news is we played well enough to get a win and advance, but we’ve got to dial it in a little bit up front because it’s not going to get any easier for us.”
Greenville’s season ends at 5-5.
The Comets had no trouble moving the football. They had 242 yards by half time, yet they trailed 37-8. The game turned in Columbia’s favor on three plays.
On Greenville’s first play from scrimmage after Long’s touchdown run put the Eagles ahead by seven, Columbia’s Jordan Holmes intercepted a Ryan Hutchinson pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
On its next possession, Hutchinson directed a 14-play, 52-yard Greenville drive to the Columbia 25 that was stopped on a failed fourth-down conversion.
Colton Byrd proceeded to break off a 75-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a three-score lead. Columbia eventually ran the lead to 47-8.
Greenville scored on the final play of the third quarter and found the end zone twice more in the game’s final two minutes.
In addition to Long’s big game, Byrd ran for 164 yards on 22 carries and caught two passes for 86 yards and a second touchdown. Holmes caught five passes for 156 yards and a score; Jared Germain had three catches for 42 yards and a touchdown; and Donovan Bieber ran 42 yards for a late score.
Hutchinson finished 17-of-34 for 259 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions; Brady Simpson had six catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns; and Christian Moss led the Comets with 109 yards on 23 carries.