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October 11, 2013
The Ed White Commanders have been here before.
On the precipice of the playoffs - needing a win against a highly-ranked opponent.
This time, it would not pass from their hands.
Ed White (5-1, 3-0) used a 92 yard kickoff return by Javonte Ferguson immediately after Columbia (5-1, 2-1))cut the Commander lead to 7-3 - to end the first quarter on top by 11, en route to a 34-17 win.
The Commanders never trailed and never let the Tigers pull closer than one score.
"Our kids are starting to buy into the system we have here," said first-year head coach Paul Pierson. "They are getting more comfortable and that speeds up the game."
Speed vs. size was the factor here. Columbia's bruising back, Lonnie Underwood would leave the game with a hip flexor late in the first. His absence changed the focus of the defense for Ed White.
"When he went out, yes, it changed our plans a bit," Pierson said. "We were focused on stopping him."
Stopping him they did - when it counted. The Commanders twice held Lake City out of the end zone in the first half - from point-blank range. One of those times was a third and goal from the five. Underwood was smothered for a loss of two and forced a field goal. Underwood also would not return in the game.
Instead, Ferguson flipped the momentum with his electrifying run down the left seam and up the middle to the far sideline.
Runs by Taylor Thomas and Eddie Edwards kept the Tigers guessing as to who would get the ball - and when. Taylor's 64-yard scamper down the sideline for the game's first score was just an example - as the Commanders used the misdirection wing-T to their advantage.
Things got interesting in the third, when Columbia's Kamario Bell went into the end zone from three yards out to cut the lead to 17-10. Bell's TD run was set by a long 40 yard pass from Nate Taylor to Alex Webber.
After the two teams traded turnovers, White QB Eric Vickers hooked up with Dashawn Patterson for a 32 yard wheel-route down the near sideline - putting the game away for good.
The two teams would trade touchdowns and White would add a field goal for the final score.
"Our bye week hit at exactly the right time," Pierson said. "We had two weeks to prepare and get our guys ready."
Columbia head football coach Brian Allen was not one to make excuses about losing Underwood.
"Man down, man up," Allen said. "We have three or four backs that are ready to step in. We had our opportunities and just didn't get it done. Give a lot of credit to Ed White, they were the better team tonight. "