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LAKE CITY - Columbia left no doubt.
The Lake City-Columbia Tigers left no doubt about avenging last year's second round playoff loss to the Bartram Trail Bears, jumping to a 15-0 lead midway through the second quarter - en route to a 35-14 victory.
It was apparent the Tigers were out for all the points they could score, when midway through the second, and leading 15-0, the Tigers had a 4th and 7 on the Bartram Trail 27 yard line. Coach Brian Allen
elected to go for the first down instead of attempting a field goal.
Usually, teams don't run simple off tackle plays when they need seven yards on 4th down, but Laremy Tunsil isn't your usual offensive tackle.
"The play is simply named "17" " Tunsil explained.
Ronald Timmons ran behind Tunsil, (one of the best offensive tackle prospect in the nation) made one move to the outside and took off for a 27 yard touchdown run. After the extra point, the Tigers lead 22-0 and never looked back.
Bartram Trail showed an ability to move the ball at times. Lead by their own Division 1 offensive lineman TylAr Reagan (North Carolina State commit), the Bears were able to mix run and pass plays to drive down the field. Two key interceptions around the goal line in the first half proved to make a huge difference and the Tiger's parlayed these turnovers to a 28-0 halftime lead.
On the first drive of the 2nd half, Bartram Trail put together a well orchestrated drive that was capped off by a TD pass from PJ Blazekowski to Nick Uruburu. However, when the Bears looked up at the end of the drive, just over four minutes remained in the 3rd quarter.
16 plays, 70 yards, and three time outs later, the Bears were on the board, and still alive with the score at 28-7.
Columbia tacked on another TD early in the 4th quarter after CB Rod Battle had his second interception of the game, which lead to a time consuming drive by the Tigers. Bartram Trail got a late TD themselves to make the final score 35-14.
Quarterback Jayce Barber (Jacksonville State commit) believes his offense has good balance but is a run-first team for one simple reason.
"We can run or throw," said Barber. "But we're gonna lean towards running the
ball more because we have Laremy (Tunsil)"
Tunsil believes he is "just as good at pass blocking or run blocking, neither one is more of a strength than the other" according to the nation's top lineman.
Columbia's offense is similarly balanced, along with a quarterback in Barber, who can scramble effectively when he needs to.
The Tigers will advance to the 2nd round next week and take on St Augustine; a team that they upset last year in the 1st round. Barber remembers this much about the Yellow Jackets from St Augustine.
"I remember they had a lot of fast guys on defense," Barber said. "But we are a physical team. so it should be a matter of our physicality versus their speed next week, and hopefully we can wear them down in the end".