MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The Columbia High School Football Cougars won their third consecutive game to begin the 2020 season on Friday night with a victory over the Orange High School Tornadoes (1-3). 

The game started with a bang, as Tornado running back Montez Boswell rushed for 63 yards on three plays, including an 18 yard touchdown to put his squad ahead. 

Columbia responded with a tremendous drive of their own, on which a key 40 yard catch by Michael Caines set up the Cougars on the four yardline, where Jahqiel St. Cyr would make a diving catch and tie the game at seven.

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After exchanging punts, Montez Boswell continued his tear, taking a handoff 25 yards for a touchdown and putting Orange ahead 14-7.

On the following drive, Columbia quarterback Kai Arrington found an open Zamar Grove who broke tackles and worked his way into the endzone for a 69 yard touchdown. With the game tied at 14 and the Tornadoes in possession of the football at midfield, Boswell coughed up a fumble, which was quickly scooped up by Columbia’s David Fadel, giving his Cougars excellent field position.

An 18 yard run by Steve Henry put the Cougars at the six yard line, where quarterback Kai Arrington escaped pressure and took the ball into the endzone, giving Columbia the lead. On their next drive, Michael Caines took a handoff four yards for the touchdown, putting the Cougars ahead 27-14 at the end of the first half. 

Columbia’s 2020 season has already been shaken by the pandemic, as last week their away game was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test on Belleville's team. After limited fans at their first two games, Friday was the first time this season that the Cougars played with no fans in attendance. The marching band and cheer team were still present to keep the players' energy high.

The Tornadoes came out strong to start the second half, thanks to big runs by Boswell and a ten yard pass from Maurice Wiliams to Jabrill Bridgeman for the touchdown. 

Columbia added to their lead with a 21 yard touchdown reception by Owen McGuffey, bringing the score to 33-21.

Orange quarterback Maurice Wiliams found Louce Julien for a 47 yard gain, setting up the Tornadoes in the red zone where Williams would again find Julien for a 19 yard touchdown, cutting Columbia’s lead to only five points. 

In the fourth quarter with just over three minutes left on the clock, Columbia went three and out, giving Orange the ball with an opportunity to win the game on a touchdown. A key deflection by Caines gave Columbia the ball back, then Steve Henry took a handoff 67 yards for a Columbia touchdown, clinching a 39-38 victory for the Cougars and bringing their record to 3-0 to begin the 2020 season. Kai Arrington finished the game with one rushing and three passing touchdowns. 

“I was just happy with us being able to overcome adversity, stick together, and learn how to win,” Cougar head coach Gary Mobley said. “We feel like we’re learning, [and] we're ecstatic about everything right now.” 

The Cougars next scheduled game will be Saturday, October 31 at West Side High School.

Eli Fishman is a senior at Columbia High School.

 

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