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Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech beats Holy Cross 28-6

Written by: on Sunday, September 25th, 2022. Follow Matt Beltz on Twitter.


ALMEDIA – It’s not often that a high school football team gets a bye during the regular season, but in the rare occasions that it does occur, it can be quite helpful depending on when it falls.

For Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech, it was perfect timing, in more ways than one. With its lead back Toby Zajac having been injured back in Week 2, he sat out the Rams’ loss in Week 3, so the bye week last week gave him an extra week to heal without missing another game. Furthermore, it gave CMVT some extra time to get its game plan ready for Saturday’s game against Holy Cross.

Last year, Holy Cross running back Logan Tierney gashed the Rams for over 200 yards rushing en route to a 43-20 victory for the Crusaders. CMVT coach Mark Varner was determined to not let that happen again, so the Rams focused their defense on Tierney and had some extra time to prepare.

Things worked to near perfection for the Rams. Not only did Zajac return to the lineup with 194 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns, but CMVT also held Tierney to just 79 rushing yards, 20 of which came on a single run late in the fourth quarter after the game was already decided, as the Rams picked up their second win of the year with a 28-6 victory over the Crusaders.

“We had a week to get healthy, and Toby came back and ran really hard and determined coming back,” said Varner. “Caden did a great job at quarterback and Ashton came in in the Wildcat and did a great job, too. When we all work together and pull the same direction and we’re on the same page, we’re a very good team, and it showed today.”

Ashton Smith, a freshman who has seen spot duty at quarterback so far this year, had a nice all-around game for the Rams, as he caught a touchdown and threw for one as well, a 70-yard strike. He also had 26 rushing yards on seven carries and caught three passes for 33 yards. Caden Long also had a solid day, completing 8-of-14 passes for 92 yards and the touchdown to Smith.

“We told them if they throw on us, that’s my fault as a coach, but we will not let him run for 200 yards like he did last year on us,” said Varner. “We had our outside and inside linebackers keying on him and our safety keying on him, so we basically had two-and-a-half guys in coverage and nine-and-half keying on the running back so we weren’t going to let him beat us.”

The Crusaders kept it close for the first half and most of the third quarter but were unable to put together a sustained drive to even the score before the Rams took a three-possession lead with its back-to-back touchdowns late in the third quarter.

“We’ve been banged up ever since the first game and have kids playing positions where they really don’t belong,” said Holy Cross coach Joe Giorgio. “We’d make a big play, and then the next play, we’d fumble the snap. It’s been that kind of year for us. We’re young, and we still have five games to play, so we’re going to come out every week ready to play and play hard.”

Holy Cross had five fumbles in the game, but only lost one. However, the other four were all on fumbled snaps, which resulted in plenty of valuable lost yardage. The Crusaders had 13 plays go for negative yards, which greatly contributed to the Rams outgaining Holy Cross 397-189, as the Crusaders lost a total of 57 yards on their negative plays. CMVT also picked off a pair of Kyle Cortazar’s passes, but both were late in the fourth quarter after the Rams had already taken the 28-6 lead.

The Rams scored on their opening drive, as they took the ball 66 yards in six plays, capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass from Long to Smith.

The teams then battled to a stalemate for the remainder of the first half and most of the third quarter, with both teams being stopped on fourth down multiple times. Holy Cross also stopped the Rams near the goal line as they forced a fumble on CMVT’s second drive of the game, but were unable to turn it into any points of its own.

After CMVT was unable to take advantage of recovering an onside kick to open the second half, Holy Cross was unable to take advantage of good starting field position at its own 40 after the Rams punted, as the Crusaders once again had a drive stall on downs, this time at the CMVT 39.

From there, the Rams finally got a big play, as Zajac got loose for a 46-yard touchdown run to give CMVT a 14-0 lead after Smith ran it in for a successful two-point conversion.

Holy Cross then lost its only fumble of the game, again on the fumbled snap, at the Ram 30-yard line on its subsequent drive. CMVT took immediate advantage, as Smith hit Shane Tomlinson for a 70-yard touchdown pass to give the Rams a 20-0 lead with :28 left in the third quarter.

The Crusaders were able to answer with a big play of their own for their lone score of the game on their ensuing possession, as Cortazar hit Jonathan Jones for a 57-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline, as Jones beat his defender. It cut the lead to two scores, 20-6, with still nearly the entire fourth quarter to play.

But CMVT ended up taking up nearly half of the quarter with a long drive to put the game away, as the Rams went 75 yards in 11 plays, taking 5:53, capped by Zajac’s second touchdown of the game, a one-yard run.

Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech 28, Holy Cross 6
Holy Cross (0-5)                                        0    0    0    6  –  6
Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech (2-2)    6    0   14   8  – 28

First quarter
9:51 – (VT) Ashton Smith 13-yard pass from Caden Long (run failed), 6-66, 2:09

Third quarter
3:15 – (VT) Toby Zajac 46-yard run (Smith run), 5-60, 2:30
:28 – (VT) Shane Tomlinson 70-yard pass from Ashton Smith (pass failed), 1-70, :12

Fourth quarter
11:50 – (HC) Jonathan Jones 57-yard pass from Kyle Cortazar (run failed), 3-61, :38
5:57 – (VT) Toby Zajac 1-yard run (Koncsler pass from Long), 11-75, 5:53

                                         HC                    VT

First downs                       10                       17

Rushes-net yards          32-57                  38-235

Passing yardage              132                     162

Passing                       9-17-1-2              9-15-2-0

Fumbles-lost                    5-1                      2-2

Penalties-yards               3-20                    9-62


RUSHING — Holy Cross: Logan Tierney (20-79), Kyle Cortazar (5-(-35)), Josh Mease (4-12), Leland Wudarski (2-(-9)), David Jennings (1-10); CMVT: Toby Zajac (25-194-2), Ashton Smith (7-26), Braxtyn Brown (4-6), Caden Long (1-6), Shane Tomlinson (1-3)

PASSING — Holy Cross: Kyle Cortazar (9-17-132-1-2); CMVT: Caden Long (8-14-92-1-0), Ashton Smith (1-1-70-1-0)

RECEIVING — Holy Cross: Gabe Gonzales (3-38), Jonathan Jones (2-55-1), Logan Tierney (2-38), Kevin Vincent (2-1); CMVT: Shane Tomlinson (5-115-1), Ashton Smith (3-33-1), Chase Koncsler (1-14)

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