SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Junior quarterback Deion Hudson threw a touchdown pass and ran in one of his own and halfback Justin Osuji broke through for two scores as the Columbia Cougars defeated East Side 28-6 on a rainy Friday night in South Orange.
The win was the first of the young season for Columbia and first year head coach Eugene Kline. They are now 1-2 after dropping their first two games, including a tough season opening loss to Kearney, 27-26.
“I’m just happy to get the monkey off our back,” Coach Kline said after the game. “I’m happy to get that first win. Hopefully there’s more to come,” he added.
Columbia got their offense rolling on their very first drive. Osuji had a long run to bring the ball to the East Side end of the field. He capped off the drive with a 14 yard run down the middle to put his team up 6-0 with just over 3:30 left in the opening quarter.
The defense for Columbia stepped up big on the ensuing East Side drive. With the ball near midfield, quarterback Michael Howard dropped back to pass. He was hit on the throw and was intercepted as Columbia took over on their own 39 yard line.
After an Osuji run, time was winding down in the second quarter. Hudson and the offense remained composed as the senior threw a strike to wide receiver Emmanuel Grant for a 58 yard touchdown. The extra point put the home team up 14-0 with 38.3 seconds until halftime.
“I saw it was one-on-one (Grant and the defensive back). I kept my composure. I just believed in my receiver and let him take over,” Hudson said of his touchdown throw.
East Side scored a touchdown when Columbia turned the ball over on their first possession of the second half, but the Columbia offense marched right back on the field to put together a scoring drive of their own.
Osuji had a 38 yard run down the middle setting up his team in prime scoring position on the East Side 14 yard line. Hudson took over from there when he ran down the middle on a designed quarterback draw before marching into the end zone.
“My touchdown run, that felt great,” Hudson said after the game. “I saw an opening and I took it. My coaches always tell me (to use) my athleticism and I did,” he added about his score.
East Side was forced to punt on their next possession and Columbia put together a drive to score their fourth touchdown to all but ice the game.
Hudson made some nice throws on the drive including a completion on a sideline route to halfback Dequan Frazier and a 16 yard first down completion to Grant. Osuji pounded the ball in from two yards out -- Columbia was up 28-6 with 6:25 left in the game.
Just as they had done most of the night, the Columbia defense continued to pressure Howard on East Side’s next possession. They forced another punt when defensive tackle Jordan Davis sacked Howard for a ten yard loss.
“I thought it was a good effort. We had some guys definitely putting pressure on (Howard),” Coach Kline commented about his defense. “All in all they all stuck together tonight. We’re making some strides,” he added.
Columbia can certainly celebrate their first win of the season for a short while, but they know they will have to get right back to work to prepare for next week’s game against conference opponent West Orange High School on Saturday October 1st in West Orange at a time to be announced.