Columbia opened its football season on a high note Friday night. Waterloo had to wait another day thanks to Mother Nature but pulled out a win of its own.
The Eagles traveled north to Morton and came away with a 37-21 victory.
Waterloo had to make a second drive south to Herrin after Friday’s contest was postponed in the second quarter due to lightning with the Bulldogs clinging to a two-point lead.
In Morton, Greg Long rushed for two touchdowns and threw for two more in Columbia’s win. His pair of four-yard TD runs gave the Eagles a 13-0 lead after one quarter. Following a Morton score, Long kicked a 35-yard field goal to make it 16-8 heading into halftime.
Long continued his impressive night, throwing an 11-yard TD pass to Jordan Holmes to extend Columbia’s lead to 23-8 with 9:19 remaining in the third quarter.
Morton answered with two third quarter scores, cutting Columbia’s lead to 23-21 heading into the final frame.
Long came to the rescue again, throwing a five-yard TD pass to Holmes to give the Eagles some breathing room at 30-21 with 9:34 left. Colton Byrd’s 13-yard TD run with 1:24 remaining sealed the victory for Columbia in a 37-21 final.
Waterloo started off its season opener a bit shaky, with some defensive alignment issues resulting in a quick 12-0 first quarter deficit at Herrin.
But the Bulldogs quickly shook off the early jitters. Waterloo quarterback Ross Schrader converted on a big fourth down play, sneaking ahead for the necessary yard to keep the drive alive. Running back Scott Nanney took over from there, busting through the Herrin defense for a 73-yard touchdown run to make it a 12-7 game late in the opening quarter.
Waterloo’s defense picked up a sack of the Herrin quarterback to force a punt on the ensuing possession, and the Bulldogs took over on Herrin’s 38 yard line. Following another big quarterback scramble by Schrader, Dalton Viglasky scampered 26 yards to give Waterloo a 14-12 lead.
Following another three-and-out by Herrin, Waterloo had possession and was driving again when the referees called the game due to lightning in the area.
Play resumed late Saturday morning, with neither team looking very awake at the outset. Turnovers and punts were the theme as neither team scored to close out the first half.
Herrin’s passing game began to click in the third quarter, as the home team connected on a 21-yard TD pass to take an 18-14 lead with 1:55 remaining in the third quarter.
Waterloo’s passing game answered, with Schrader connecting on a 52-yard reception. He rushed it in from a yard out to give the Bulldogs a 21-18 lead with eight minutes left in the game.
Waterloo’s ground game took over from there, and Viglasky scored his second TD of the game from two yards out to make it 28-18 with 3:40 remaining. Austin Patton picked off a Herrin pass to seal the deal for the Bulldogs.
Waterloo and Columbia, both 1-0, will clash at Columbia High School on Sept. 2.
Also on Friday, Dupo opened the season with a 47-0 loss at Wood River. Red Bud won 40-16 at home against Pinckneyville.