Off to never, never land

Several things never happened before Friday.

Brian Colatruglio had never lost a game at Frost-Kalnow Stadium as Columbian coach.

Clyde coach Ryan Carter had never coached a varsity game and his senior receiver Derek Gray had never played in a varsity game.

Never ended on Friday.

Carter and Gray’s first experience under the Friday night lights brought an end to Colatruglio’s streak.

Gray broke a 7-7 fourth quarter tie, turning a screen pass into a 41-yard touchdown, giving Clyde a 13-7 win in Carter’s football coaching debut, and Colatruglio his first home loss as Tornado mentor.

It was the first time Columbian lost at Frost-Kalnow Stadium since dropping a 35-7 decision to Toledo Whitmer in Week 1 of the 2009 season.

Carter put the credit on his kids for coming up with the big plays when it mattered most.

“I told them before the game ‘It doesn’t always come down to scheme. … Sometimes it’s not about the Xs and Os it’s about the Jimmys and the Joes.’ I told them that,” Carter said. “You win with people, and you win with good people. That’s a heck of a football team over there and they have very good people. But we had some kids just step up all the way around the board tonight.”

Clyde was able to utilize a rushing attack from the backfield combination of Tim Hoppe and Kyle Mange to control most of the game. However, the Flier offense was always held short of the end zone. Going into the fourth quarter, the one touchdown the team scored came from the defensive side on a 41-yard interception return from linebacker Alex Marshall.

Midway through the fourth quarter, with the score tied at seven, Clyde had once again found its way into Columbian territory. Hoppe tossed a swing pass out to Gray, who made a move, picked up a block from Collin Rieman and raced down the sideline for the score.

The extra point was missed, giving Clyde a 13-7 advantage.

Colatruglio said Gray’s play may have been the difference on the scoreboard, but he felt most of the night Clyde controlled the game.

“The kid’s an athlete,” Colatruglio said of Gray. “They got him in space and he made a guy miss. That’s what they’re trying to do offensively. They only scored one offensive touchdown, but they controlled the ball. They got first downs, they controlled field position the whole game. … We knew this was going to be a dogfight, a low scoring game and things like that. Their punter turned the field on us a couple times, we turned it over and those were the difference in the game.”

Carter, who also serves as Clyde’s boys basketball coach, said getting Gray to come out for the team was a big addition.

“For a guy that hasn’t played football since seventh grade, that was a pretty big play,” Carter said. “We got him out in some space and he was able to make a play for us and that was huge. We kept knocking on the door; we kept putting drives together. We just couldn’t get over that hump. Finally Derek made a big play for us got us over the hump.

“He’s a special kid. I’ve had him for four years in basketball. He’s been my point guard in basketball for four years. He’s just a special kid. First varsity game he’s ever played, ever. He played in seventh grade; last time he put pads on. To come out and make plays like that, you win with people.”

Columbian struggled early on to get its offense in gear as it fell behind 7-0. Finally things looked to change as Columbian answered with a 12-play 77-yard drive. Ryan Lynch and Spencer Franklin were able to make big gains running the ball and sophomore quarterback Stone Simmons capped off the drive with an eight-yard scoring toss to Nate Hoyda.

But, the Tornadoes couldn’t maintain the positive momentum it built of that drive and struggled to get back into scoring range.

“For most of the game we had real trouble,” Colatruglio said. “We had trouble on third down trying to keep drives going. Honestly we didn’t block real well; we didn’t stay on blocks. For supposedly our strength being our offensive line, and us really needing to lean on our offensive line, I’m not so sure that we played real great up there. I think our sophomore quarterback played pretty well and made some plays when he needed to. We just weren’t consistent enough up front. If we’re not consistent up front then were not going to be very good on offense.”

Columbian’s final chance came with 52 seconds left when it took over on its own 25.

Simmons connected with Hoyda and Jeffrey Crawford for short gains before hitting freshman Russ Yeast streaking down the middle of the field. Yeast was finally brought down at the 15-yard line.

With four seconds to go, Columbian had one final chance, but a pass towards the end zone fell incomplete, setting off a celebration on Clyde’s sideline.

“That was a sophomore and a freshman making a big play there,” Colatruglio said of the pass that brought Columbian close. “You never want to lose, obviously, but there are some real positives that took place tonight and we’re going to build on that. We’re not where we need to be. I thought we had progressed a little bit and we’re not there yet. We need to make strides and we’ll go back to work on Monday.”