The A.C. Flora offense was a sickness Thursday night, and the host Columbia Capitals could find no cure at Memorial Stadium.
The Falcons built a 30-point, first-half lead, starting four of their five drives inside Columbia territory, on the way to a 40-15 victory.
“I’m just proud of my guys because they have persevered through three games,” said Falcons coach Reggie Shaw, who picked up his first win with the program. “We haven’t put together a complete game of offense and defense until tonight.”
With 6:22 remaining, the Capitals scored on a 8-yard keeper by quarterback William Gossette, with Diante Petruso completing the two-point conversion to avoid a shutout. Petruso’s 15-yard touchdown reception with 47 seconds remaining set the final score.
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“We’re struggling in every area, we’re very young and we’ve been playing some good football teams,” Columbia coach Kemper Amick said. “We’re just trying to keep our guys together and get into region season.”
The Falcons set the tone on Columbia’s opening drive, their sizable defensive line holding the Capitals to no gain on a three-and-out.
Beginning at the Columbia 42, Flora put the Columbia defensive line on its heels, and four long gains put the Falcons inside the Capitals 10. On first-and-goal from the 5, Aven Pollard covered the distance to put A.C. Flora on the board with five minutes gone.
The Falcons then pulled off an onside kick to retain possession and, driving from the Columbia 47, used four plays to take a 14-0 lead. First-year starter Brendan Greene completed a 29-yard scoring pass to tight end Lowndes Pope.
“We wanted to show our guys that we had confidence in them. That was our plan from the start to get the ball and score and then try and get an onside kick and get some momentum,” Shaw said.
While things worked out according to plan for the Falcons, not much went the Capitals’ way.
Columbia caught a break when Flora botched the next kickoff. But starting from their own 35, the Capitals fumbled, and the Falcons recovered. Darrius Richardson saved the Capitals with an interception and 13-yard return on the first play of the Falcons’ ensuing drive.
The Capitals pressed 48 yards to the Flora 25 before turning the ball over on downs with 55 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Taking over from their own territory for the first time, the Falcons again made short work of the field.
On the first play of the drive, Pollard bust through a seam along the right hash and rumbled to the Capitals’ 18 as the quarter ended. Flora used 12 seconds in the second quarter to score on a catch-and-run by Pollard.
Columbia’s remaining three first-half drives began inside its own 20, and the Capitals finished the half with 53 yards.
A 22-yard field goal from Joseph Charlton set the halftime score. Charlton also kicked a 42-yard field goal in the third quarter.
AC Flora 14 16 10 0—40
Columbia 0 0 0 15—15
A—Aven Pollard 5 run (Jack Grady kick)
A—Lowndes Pope 29 pass from Brendan Greene (Grady kick)
A—Pollard 18 pass from Greene (kick failed)
A—Denzel Johnson 14 pass from Greene (Grady kick)
A—Joseph Charlton 22 field goal
A—JuWan Simon 15 run (Grady kick)
A—Joseph Charlton 42 field goal
C—William Gossette 8 run (Diante Petruso rush)
C—Petruso 15 pass from Gossette (James Kinlaw kick)