Braasch burns Bulldogs
Big plays and a big night from Joey Braasch earned Columbus High football its first win of the season on Friday night in a 35-16 victory over North Platte.
The Discoverers scored on a 53-yard run, 86-yard kickoff return, set up a third touchdown with a 56-yard pass, recovered a fumble in the red zone that led to a touchdown, then capped the win with a 33-yard carry from Braasch for his fourth TD of the night.
Braasch carried nine times for 137 yards and three scores and took the kickoff 86 for his fourth.
His final run, the 33-yard scamper that capped his night, included a spin around defenders on the edge, what looked to be a stoppage of progress at the sidelines, then Braasch emerging from the pile carrying Bulldogs on his back across the goal line.
“He showed some flashes last year. That last run when he made a cut, run over a couple people, broke a couple tackles then blew everybody away, that’s Joey. He’s capable of doing that,” coach Craig Williams said. “That’s one of the best runs I’ve ever seen. I just told him that’s the type of athleticism and physical ability you have.”
Despite losing the time of possession battle by a huge margin in the first half, Columbus took a 14-9 lead into the break thanks to two big plays from the Discoverers’ junior running back.
Braasch went left for 11 on the first play then took a pitch 53 yards around the right side and sprinted past North Platte defenders for a 7-0 lead.
The Bulldogs tied it early in the second after a 10-play drive ended on Nick Bocott’s 8-yard run up the middle. Columbus had made a stop moments earlier, and forced a punt, but muffed the kick and gave it right back near midfield. North Platte used the field position to tie the game.
Braasch made sure the game didn’t stay tied long. He went 86 yards on the ensuing kickoff after initially dropping the catch.
With the coverage team bearing down, he juked out the first two Bulldogs, then found a seam up the right sideline.
A holding call, then an illegal procedure penalty inside the 10, led to a safety on the next Columbus drive when Carson Zwingman was caught in the end zone by a host of Bulldogs.
Columbus punted, then threw an interception on its final two drives of the half. The Discoverers enjoyed a 14-9 halftime advantage while only running 10 plays compared to 40 for North Platte.
A 56-yard pass from CJ Fleeman to Cade Fullner set Columbus up for a Braasch 2-yard score three plays later and a 21-9 lead with 10:47 left in the game.
Avery McMeekin recovered a fumble at the 15 on the next North Platte possession. Zwingman went in from the 2 to make it 28-9.
After the defense stopped the Bulldogs on downs, Braasch made his magical run two plays later.
North Platte added one final score with 2:23 remaining.
“It’s vindication for our kids for how hard they work, because they’ve worked hard,” Williams said. “For them to go out last week and have it slip away from them in the fourth quarter, then come out here and really battle in the first half, says a lot. We kept plugging away.
“To pull away like we did, it vindicates all the effort the kids have put in all summer long, through the preseason, fall camp and into last week. It just makes you feel good everything is paying off for them.”