Simonds, TC roll

PHOTO BY JONATHON BIRD Columbian's Todd Simonds keeps the ball as he gains several yards during the first half against Willard Friday in Tiffin.

Todd Simonds and Ro’Naugi Durham tied a record that no one can break.

And when the play happened, this much was clear:

After a tough season, it finally was Columbian’s night, as the Tornadoes romped over Willard, 40-14 at Frost-Kalnow Stadium.Simonds, Columbian’s quarterback, made big plays all night, as he threw for 362 yards and accumulated five touchdowns, passing for four.

But the big one came in the fourth quarter.With the Tornadoes already leading the Flashes 27-6, Columbian’s offense was backed up deep in it’s own territory. After a couple of procedure penalties, the Tornadoes had the ball on their own 1, and were facing a third down and 14.

Most teams, with a three touchdown lead late in a game, would play it safe.

But Columbian coach Judd Lutz had other ideas.

“We go through a certain set of plays where, we feel like, if we get a potential look, we want to go to, when we’re backed up,” Lutz said. “You can’t be afraid to throw out of your own end zone.”

Columbian didn’t. Simonds launched a pass down the left sideline, where his 6-foot-4 senior receiver — who hadn’t played in weeks due to an injury — hauled in the pass against good coverage, then took off.

He made midfield. The 40, the 30…and then he was gone to the end zone.Ninety-nine yards.

“We saw the corners pressed up a little bit, so we were taking a shot,” Simonds said. “He made a great catch, made a great play.”

Durham finished his high school football career with two catches for 104 yards. He said he was eager to get on the field and contribute.

“I needed to redeem myself,” Durham said. “It was going through my head, this whole season I haven’t scored yet. A senior, senior night, I had to go all out.”

He wasn’t the only Tornado to do so, as TC got contributions up and down the roster and blew away Willard after leading just 7-6 at the half.

The Tornadoes’ lone first-half score came when Tyler Eisenhower caught the first of two touchdown passes — a screen that he took down the right side from 26 yards out early in the second quarter.

Willard answered that score with one of its own, as Brevon Polachek snagged a 14-yard TD from signal-caller Ethan Daub. The kick failed, and TC carried a one-point edge into the break.Columbian felt the lead should have been bigger.

In the final seconds of the first half, TC faced a fourth down from about the Willard 2. Lutz sent out kicker Parker Johnson for an apparent field goal. But Simonds — who was the holder — left to his feet and fired a pass to Mason Hill in the back of the end zone.

It looked like a score, but there was no touchdown signal. Instead, the officials ruled Simonds down where he took the snap.

“They said you’re allowed to snap it, you can get back up and throw,” Lutz said. “They said he came up — so his knee lifted off the ground — and then he went back down, at which you then have to kick it. You can’t then try to throw it, so that’s why they blew it dead…that was the explanation.”

It may have frustrated the Tornadoes, but the disappointment didn’t appear to linger.

“Definitely some frustration, but coach Lutz kept our heads up,” Simonds said. “We went out there and did what we were supposed to do.”

After the break, Simonds hit Donnell Brockington for a 20 yard touchdown, then ran in a 1-yard TD before connecting with Eisenhower again. After Durham’s TD, Johnson had a two-yard touchdown rush.

“We weren’t able to get any pressure on him, so they were able to get us downfield quite a bit,” said Willard coach Britton Devier.

Willard closed the scoring when Chad Mahl, who finished with 141 yards on the ground, ran into the end zone from four yards out.

Columbian picked off Daub three times.Columbian improved to 2-8, Willard finished at 1-9.