It was a play drawn up the day before the game — by the defensive coordinator, of all people.
That well-executed double-pass by Columbia caught Waterloo off guard late in the third quarter Friday and the 80-yard gain set up a crucial touchdown in the Eagles’ 27-10 football victory.
The play, called “diamond,” came courtesy of Columbia defensive coordinator Scott Germain. Eagles quarterback Greg Long tossed the ball to receiver Jordan Holmes, who had been competing for quarterback in the preseason.
Holmes turned and threw to a wide-open Mitch Daniels for an 80-yard gain, with Holmes catching a 10-yard TD pass from Long on the next play. The Eagles’ 14-10 lead jumped to 20-10 and they never looked back.
“Coach drew that up on the board and I was like ‘Man, this is going to work,” said Holmes, who finished the night with three touchdown receptions and caught six passes for 84 yards. “We ran it at the right time and it was just just awesome, Mitch was wide open, I saw him and I threw it. I couldn’t believe it.”
Will Columbia coach Scott Horner start giving Germain more leeway in calling plays for the offense?
“That was a good call, wasn’t it?” Horner said. “I challenge the kids all the time ... in a game like this, somebody’s got to step up and make plays. They did it; Holmes to Daniels and it was awesome.”
It was another big night for Long and the Eagles (2-0). The senior quarterback had two of the Eagles’ four interceptions, one on a diving play in the fourth quarter. He threw three TD passes to Holmes and ran for a fourth TD.
It was an emotional contest as the Monroe County rivals threw everything they had at each other before a huge crowd. Waterloo drew 11 penalties for 130 yards, including five personal fouls, and Bulldogs coach Dan Rose was ejected by the officials with 7:55 remaining.
Columbia had six penalties for 70 yards and two personal fouls.
“Everybody talks about big teams going back and forth, (Belleville) East and West, but Columbia and Waterloo is possibly one of the greatest rivalries of all time,” Long said. “We’ve been playing against each other since we were kids. I know some of the guys out there, good friends, bad friends ... it all comes down to who wants it more. I guess we had it today, but I love to play against them every year.”
Holmes hauled in a 13-yard TD pass with 7:02 remaining to close out the scoring as Eagles running back Colton Byrd churned time off the clock with 94 yards on 23 carries.
Waterloo (1-1) jumped on top early when Noah Comstock picked off a Long pass and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown with 7:04 remaining in the first quarter.
The Eagles answered quickly on a 1-yard run by Long and his extra-point tied it 7-7.
Long and Daniels each had interceptions for Columbia in the first half. The pick by Daniels late in the first quarter set up a 52-yard TD pass from Long to Jordan Holmes, with Holmes dancing his way into the end zone down the right side.
Both defenses controlled play after that until late in the first half, when a Waterloo drive reached the 5-yard line. Columbia’s defense held and forced a 22-yard field goal that Hayden Bender nailed to cut the Eagles’ halftime lead to 14-10.
Rose must sit out next week’s game because of the ejection. He said he and his staff were trying to get the officials’ attention about an aggressive tackle play.
“There was absolutely no foul language that was directed toward those referees at all,” Rose said. “None. Congratulations to the Eagles, they played a good game.”