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MEDINA, OHIO – The Columbia Raiders and Buckeye Bucks have been playing each other since 1957, but their battle in Medina on Friday night will go down as one of the most memorable games in the history of the rivalry.
The Bucks, led by just over 300 yards rushing, built a 10-point fourth quarter lead, and in the end they held on after a failed Hail Mary by Columbia on the games final play for a 38-35 win.
The win puts Buckeye at 4-1 on the season, the Raiders with the tough loss fall to 3-2.
Buckeye took advantage of winning the turnover battle four-to-one, and were able to withstand an amazing game by Raiders leading rusher Brandon Coleman, who galloped for 190 yards on 19 carries and three scores for the Raiders in the loss.
Buckeye quarterback Jacob Doerge led both throwing and the ground game for the Bucks, as he ran for 97 yards on 25 carries with a pair of touchdowns, and he also threw the ball 12 times, completing seven passes for a total of 60 yards.
Dom Monaco, who was the NEOSI HS Football Player of the Week in week four, ran for 93 yards on 12 carries with two scores for the Bucks.
Explosive wide out and kick returner Anthony Watkins had a big part in the win for Buckeye, as he returned a second quarter kick 85 yards for a score to tie the game at 14, and he also caught four passes for 43 yards, and ran the ball six times for 43 yards.
The Raiders got a huge night from Coleman in the setback, and also were led by quarterback Jared Bycznski, who went 8-for-13 for 71 yards and a score through the air.
The two teams traded scores in the first quarter, and then in the second quarter Columbia went up 14-7 on a two-yard rush for a score by Coleman.
The Bucks came right back on Watkins’ 85-yard kick return to make it 14 all. The two teams traded scores right before half, as Doerge scored on a 14-yard run to make it 21-14 Buckeye.
Columbia came right back, as Coleman raced 18 yards with 16 seconds left before half to make it a 21-21 game at the break.
The third quarter saw the Bucks go on a long drive and Monaco went in from a yard out to make it 28-21 Buckeye with 7:01 left in the third quarter. The drive covered 12 plays and 65 yards.
Coleman though could not be stopped, as he and the Raiders needed just four plays to tie the game up, and he went on a spectacular 33-yard run to tie the game up at 28 all with 5:28 left in the quarter.
The game stayed that way into the fourth quarter, when Buckeye senior DB Michael Knoll picked off a pass at the Columbia six-yard line, setting up the next Bucks score.
That score came on the next play, as Doerge went in giving the Bucks a 35-28 lead with 10:26 left in the game. The Bucks after a huge stop went on a long 13-play drive, covering 39 yards and eating up four minutes as they drove into Columbia territory.
That drive ended with a 37-yard field goal by Clay Gunkleman to make it 38-28 Bucks with 4:26 left.
The Raiders did not go quietly, as Bycznski threw Columbia back into the game, hitting a few key passes with the final being a throw to senior Bailey Coleman from 27 yards out to close it a to 38-35 game.
The Bucks got a huge 65-yard run from Monaco to put the ball deep in Raiders territory, but their drive stalled, allowing the Raiders one more shot in the final minutes.
Columbia drove from their 15 to the Buckeye 26 in the final minute, but a final attempt with 3.6 seconds left fell short, as the hail mary went out of the end zone, securing the win for the Bucks.
Next week the Bucks will play at Wellington, while Columbia will be at home against Lutheran West.
Player of the Game:
Columbia RB Brandon Coleman
It was one year ago that Columbia RB Brandon Coleman suffered a season-ending knee injury against Buckeye. This year, despite being on the losing end of a 38-35 decision to the Bucks, Coleman returned with a vengeance.
Coleman ran the ball 19 times on Friday night, putting up 190 yards and three touchdowns in the three-point loss. He also caught five passes for 17 yards.
He nearly helped the Raiders win the game in the final seconds, as Columbia did whatever they could to get him the ball on their final drive, and he helped the Raiders drive from their 15 to the Bucks 26 before a final Hail Mary fell short.
It’s been another stellar season for the Columbia back, and he took yet another step forward on Friday night.
Check Out this photo gallery from week five action between the Raiders and Bucks.