Eagles fall at Murphysboro

Columbia’s Zach Wetzel celebrates after scoring a touchdown earlier this season.

The Columbia High School football team fought hard but was unable to overtake a tough Murphysboro squad at their place Friday night in the first round of the IHSA Class 4A playoffs.

Murphysboro defeated the Eagles by the count of 41-28.

Columbia started off with solid play in all phases and led 7-0 after the first quarter. The score came courtesy of a three-yard touchdown run by Cameron Janik.

Murphysboro started to get going in the second quarter, scoring on an 18-yard pass and a five-yard run to take the lead. The Eagles answered with a 62-yard TD pass from Dominic Voegele to Zach Wetzel to tie the game with 2:08 remaining in the half – only to see Murphysboro recapture the lead with a short TD run in the final seconds before halftime.

A 40-yard TD pass play early in the third quarter put Murphysboro up 28-14, but the Eagles clawed back with a 32-yard TD pass from Voegele to Brennan Weik with 6:09 remaining in the frame.

However, Murphysboro again notched a TD to end the quarter, taking a 35-21 edge into the final frame.

The backbreaker for Columbia was a 73-yard TD run by the host squad with 7:45 remaining in the contest.

Weik caught a 15-yard TD pass from Voegele with just 2:15 left in the game, marking the end of the scoring on this night.

Columbia ended its 2022 campaign at 6-4.

Voegele, known mostly for his running this season, finished with a career-high 331 yards passing and three TDs with one interception on Friday. He also rushed for 95 yards. 

His favorite target on the night was Wetzel, who caught seven passes for 198 yards.

“We were in the game until the fourth (quarter),” Columbia head coach Scott Horner said. “They were very fast and we had a hard time stopping them.” 

Voegele put together an impressive senior season, finishing with 1,343 yards rushing and 15 TDs, 1,127 yards passing at 10 TDs, plus 78 total tackles and three interceptions on defense and solid kicking, punting and return efforts.

Other seniors who contributed to Columbia’s success this season, per Horner, included Wetzel, Tom Koenigstein, Mason Schnable, Hayden Habermehl, Carter Hicks, Brennan Weik and Nick Janik. 

“It is always tough to see the seniors lose their last game.  They have invested so much for our program and we are thankful for their commitment to Blue Pride football,” Horner said. “They were great leaders all year and exceeded my expectations.”  

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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