Home > Speedy tailback plays big role in Columbus East victory | USA Today High School Sports

Speedy tailback plays big role in Columbus East victory | USA Today High School Sports

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. — Columbus East needed another win for its perfect conference record to clinch a share of the Hoosier Hills Conference title. Tailback Steven O’Neal ensured that victory, leading his team in a 42-21 win at Jeffersonville.

The speedy 5-foot-8, 170-pound senior rushed 277 yards on 24 carries and scored a touchdown in every quarter except the fourth.

“He was huge for us,” coach Bob Gaddis said. “He got a little banged up earlier in the season, but I told him, ‘You’re going to have to give us a lot this game,’ and he did.”

O’Neal’s first touchdown was 30 seconds after kickoff. He began the game by running the Olympians deep into Red Devil’s territory. Two plays later, he sped 13 yards into the endzone. Barely a minute had elapsed, and Columbus East’s 7-0 record was beginning to look like no fluke.

Underdog Jeffersonville didn’t let the 11-time Hoosier Hills conference winners clinch a share of their 12th easily, though. Isaiah Blanton returned the punt following O’Neal’s score for a touchdown, evening the score.

Columbus East proceeded to end the first quarter with another two touchdowns. The first was quarterback Josh Major’s first pass of the game, which was thrown 12 yards to Caleb Voelker. The second was to Cameron Wilson, which he took 79 yards into the endzone.

In the second quarter, Jeffersonville made another rebuttal touchdown, making it 21-14. O’Neal, on a spectacularly blocked play, widened that scoring gap again with an 80-yard rushing touchdown.

“Our offensive line’s protection really helped,” Gaddis said. The blocking also helped secure O’Neal’s third touchdown, which came with 3:31 to go in the third.

The Olympians ended that quarter on the 1-yard line. Three seconds into the fourth, sophomore quarterback Josh Major finished the drive to score. Major, who also completed 70 percent of his passes, doubled the Red Devil’s score 42-21 to finish the game.


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