Columbian clicks against Bulldogs
Tornadoes snap 10-game skid as Koerper, Frankhauser shine
The offense was moving the ball.
The defense was strong.
All Columbian needed was one big play to get things rolling.
Quarterback Chase Frankhauser and receiver Nick Koerper provided it, and the Tornadoes never looked back.
The juniors connected on a 30-yard touchdown strike on the first play of the second quarter, breaking a scoreless tie and beginning a dominant night for Columbian.
Frankhauser found Koerper nine times — three times for touchdowns — and paced a 35-3 drubbing of Elida in the season opener Friday in Tiffin.
The win snapped a 10-game losing streak for the Tornadoes, and marked their first victory since they defeated Willard 40-14 Oct. 28, 2016.
Columbian dominated on both sides of the ball. Koerper had nine catches for 213 yards. He also recovered a fumble. Frankhauser completed 13 of 17 passes for 264 yards. He also rushed for 94 and intercepted Elida quarterback Evan Unruh twice.
Parker Johnson and Cody Craig each ran for TC scores. Johnson also intercepted Unruh. The Tornadoes forced five turnovers.
But perhaps the biggest play was that first touchdown.
“We worked really hard all offseason, and I gotta give credit to Chase over there,” Koerper said. “He just knew where the ball should go.”
In this case, the ball went to an open Koerper, who then rambled into the end zone.
“We just knew they were gonna go man (defense), so we had the middle wide open,” Frankhauser said. “Once I hit it, I knew it was touchdown.”
And it only was the beginning. Later, Frankhauser picked Unruh, which eventually led to Johnson scoring on a direct snap from the 1. Columbian led 14-0 with 7:16 left in the half. And then Koerper recovered a fumble deep in Elida territory, which set up another score: an 11-yard Craig jaunt.
It was 21-0. Three Columbian touchdowns in less than four minutes.
“(The Bulldogs) were making it tough sledding inside with the run game,” Columbian coach Judd Lutz said. “I thought we did a good job still, running it, even when they had more people (in the box) than we did.”
Elida answered when Noah Adcock converted a 34-yard field goal with 3:03 left in the half. Columbian went to the break up 21-3.
It probably shouldn’t have been that close.
Frankhauser’s lone mistake on the evening came when Columbian was inside the red zone late in the second quarter. But a pass to the corner was intercepted by Keyshawn Spivey. The Tornadoes also were hurt by penalties. The Tornadoes were called for 10 in the first half and 17 in the game.
“We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot early,” Lutz said. “Penalties … just anxious.”
But the Tornadoes powered through it. Koerper and Frankhauser were responsible for two more touchdowns: A 42-yard pass in the third quarter, and — in the biggest yardage play of the night — a 75-yard completion in the fourth.
It was a terrific first game for Frankhauser. who had 358 total yards, and converted a third-and-21 in the first quarter by breaking a 26-yard scramble.
“He looked real good,” Lutz said. “He’s looked good for two years now as an athlete and competitor, and he was voted captain as a junior, which doesn’t happen very often. He had an unbelievable offseason, and is just a competitive, tough-nosed kid.”
And though Frankhauser and Koerper received much of the attention, Lutz stressed the win was a true team effort.
“Every guy on the perimeter did a great job blocking,” Lutz said. “Got their hands on the ball, made some great catches, and tonight was Nick’s night. I think some other nights it will be some other guys (who) step up.”
For Elida, Unruh’s debut was up and down. The freshman threw three interceptions, but played hard and threw for 223 yards. He was aided by Spivey, who had eight catches for 109 yards.
But the night belonged to the Tornadoes, even if they seemed far from satisfied.
“This is just the beginning,” Frankhauser said. “We’ve got to keep going.”