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November 23, 2012

Columbia routs St. Augustine 34-8

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LAKE CITY-There is an old saying, be careful what you wish for you just might get it.

Nearly a year to the date, St. Augustine got the rematch they wanted, unfortunately they weren't ready.

Columbia (11-1) rolled St. Augustine 34-8 at Tiger Stadium to advance to its first regional final since 2003 and will now travel to Navarre - a 20-12 winner over Milton - for the Region I-6A final.

After seeing Atlantic Coast tailback Richard Montgomery scorch St. Augustine for 300 yards, Columbia tailback Ronald Timmons followed suit.

The Yellow Jackets (11-1) had no answer for stopping Timmons (219 yards on 21 carries), as the senior tailback became the Tigers' single-season rushing leader with a 10-yard run with six minutes left in the first half.

Timmons 53-yard run down the left side of the field untouched gave the Tigers an early 6-0 lead two minutes into the second quarter.

After Brett Newcomb sacked Sandon Mims on a fourth and five play, Timmons broke off a 15 yard run followed by the 10 yard run to become the new leader. The drive ended when kicker Thomas Brayden hooked a 26-yard field goal wide left to keep the score 6-0 with under five minutes left till half.

That's when the Tigers defense took control of the game pressuring Mims throughout the night including the last two possessions of the first half.

After rushing for 216 yards against Ridgeview, a healthy senior tailback Levent Sands (26 yards on six carries) barely touched the ball, and was held to a season low six carries on the night.

Perhaps seeing what Bartram Trail did last week against the Tigers, convinced the Yellow Jackets offensive coordinator to air it out more as Mims (13 of 32 for 127 yards, 2 INTs) threw nearly three time as many passes on the night than rushing plays.

None were more costly than the two interceptions though.

Trailing 6-0 it appeared the Yellow Jackets would be satisfied going into the locker room down just one score.

Six plays following the missed field goal, Mims was under pressure from Newcomb and threw a desperation pass into the hands of Tiger freshman defensive back Roger Cray, who returned the interception 50 yards for a score giving the Tigers a 14-0 lead with 1:20 left till halftime.

Four plays later, Mims sailed a pass across the middle and into the hands of Columbia' Trey Marshall who returned the second interception within 80 seconds 37 yards to the 25-yard line.

Behind Lonnie Underwood (69 yards on 10 carries), the Tigers moved into the red zone again as Underwood accounted for 23 yards on the drive, before Timmons 3-yard run gave the Tigers a shocking 21-0 halftime lead with 17.3 seconds left in the half.

A shell shocked Jackets team abandoned the run for sure in the second half, as Sands had only one carry the second half and that wasn't until late in the game.

A rare Columbia fumble a minute into the second half near midfield gave the Jackets a chance to get back in the game but the Tigers defense didn't allow the Jackets past midfield. A score there may not only have cut the lead to 21-7 but been enough momentum to stay in the game.

Instead the Tigers kept pouring it on, a roughing the punter call helped keep a drive alive which ended with the up back Marshall rumbling 55 yards on a fake punt for a game clinching score and 27-0 lead with three minutes left in the third quarter.

Columbia appeared to be heading towards another score on the first drive of the fourth quarter getting into the red zone behind Underwood; however a Jayce Barber fumble fell into the hands of Cody McCullough who returned the ball 85 yards the other way for the only score of the night for the Jackets to stop the shutout.

Senior receiver Bobby Mitchell ran in the two-point conversion to cut the lead to 27-8 with nine minutes left in the game.

After Timmons 25-yard touchdown run was called back for holding, Underwood capped the Tigers scoring with a 10-yard run making it 34-8 with 2:22 left in the game.

Sands who hadn't touch the ball since just before halftime, finally carried the ball in the closing minutes and appeared to score a 30-yard touchdown but it was called back for holding to keep the Jackets offense scoreless on the night.

Cray made his second huge play of the night, picking up a Mims fumble and weaving his way to a 42 yard touchdown with 18 seconds left, but it to was called back.

The win sends Columbia to its first regional final since 2003, Danny Green's last season at Columbia and St. Augustine searching for answers after another loss early playoff exit after so many deep playoff runs.



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