Eagles grounded in playoff thriller

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Ronnie Hunsaker scored on a 64-yard touchdown reception early in Saturday’s playoff loss at Prairie Central.

The amazing season for the Columbia High School football Eagles came to an end Saturday afternoon at Fairbury in an exciting Class 4A second round playoff contest.

Columbia (10-1) lost to Prairie Central (9-2), 28-22.

The Eagles trailed 28-7 with just more than seven minutes left in the game as Prairie Central ran the ball in following Columbia’s third lost fumble of the day.

That’s when things started to get interesting.

Columbia benefited from solid field position following a personal foul penalty on the home team on the ensuing kickoff, and Eagles signal caller Nic Horner connected with tailback Donavan Bieber on a 40-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-14 with 7:07 remaining.

The Eagles then attempted an onside kick, which was recovered by Columbia’s Jackson Holmes at midfield.

Nic Horner hooked up with twin brother Sam Horner on a long pass to Prairie Central’s 12 yard line, which ultimately led to a Bieber TD run that cut the lead to 28-20. Bieber ran in the two-point try to make it 28-22 with 5:46 left.

Prairie Central appeared to have the victory sealed following a big conversion on fourth down and six at Columbia’s 23 yard line. However, Prairie Central running back Dailen Loveless lost a fumble that the Eagles recovered at their own 30 yard line with 1:59 remaining.

Nic Horner drove his team to midfield in one last-ditch comeback effort, only to see Prairie Central’s Brandon Hoselton pick off a pass to put the Eagles away in the final minute. Hoselton had also recovered a fumble on Columbia’s opening drive of the game that went all the way down to the one yard line.

All of Prairie Central’s damage was done on the ground, led by an option offense run by quarterback Kaden King. He had 167 yards rushing and a TD. Loveless added 93 yards rushing, Conner Casner had 83 yards rushing and two TDs and Corbin Moser ran for 55 yards.

Nic Horner was 9-for-18 passing for 187 yards and two TDs in his final game for Columbia. Another senior, Bieber ran for 59 yards in addition to his 40-yard TD reception.

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