Using an unyielding, ball control running game to keep Columbia's big-play offense at bay, St. Pius X seized a big lead and held on for a 34-20 win over the Eagles on Friday in Region 6-AAAA play.
The Golden Lions (3-2, 3-0), who have now won three straight, scored the game's first 31 points. By the time Columbia (4-2, 3-1) began to resemble the team that came in averaging 36 points per game midway through the third quarter, the deficit was too great and the time was too short.
St. Pius finished with 349 rushing yards, led by 226 hard-earned yards on 34 carries from fullback Dalton Wilson.
The opening drive established the tone as the Golden Lions drove 72 yards on 12 plays, finishing in the end zone on a 3-yard run from Wilson. Seven plays later, aided by a Columbia lateral gone awry, the lead was stretched to 14-0 on a 17-yard run from Ransom Klinger.
So it went for much of the first half. The Golden Lions dominated time of possession, giving Columbia only six plays of possession in the first quarter, and extending the halftime lead to 24-0 on a 3-yard run from Grant Holloman and a 36-yard field goal by Michael Matthews.
Columbia entered the game on a four-game winning streak, boasting a quick-strike offense that was averaging 385 yards per game. The Eagles showed glimpses of that ability, but opportunities were fleeting in the first half. Quarterback Andre Brown sparked Columbia in the second half, running for a touchdown and throwing for two more.
The Eagles trimmed the lead to 34-20 with 7:40 left in the game, but never regained possession and Wilson and the Golden Lions grinded out the clock.
Brown led Columbia, completing 15 of 22 for 244 yards and running 16 times for 82 yards. William Tomlin was the Eagles' leading receiver with 90 yards on three catches.
Klinger added 44 yards and a touchdown on four carries for St. Pius which attempted just one pass.
The Golden Lions play at No. 4 Marist next week. Columbia will play host to Grady on Saturday.
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