Cougars Can’t Control Orange Offense in 46-21 Loss

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The good news?

The Columbia Cougars defense held the Orange Tornadoes offense to about 60 yards rushing.

The bad news?

The Cougars defense couldn’t stop quarterback Taree Ward-May and wide receivers Jibri Artis and Ahiajh Broomes. The trio dominated the Cougar cornerbacks in the second half, coasting to a 46-21 victory in Bell Stadium in Orange.

Cougars Can’t Control Orange Offense in 46-21 Loss. Credit: David Chmiel.

Cougars Can’t Control Orange Offense in 46-21 Loss. Credit: David Chmiel.

The 0-3 Cougars pressure by the corners made it easy for the Artis and Broomes to blow past them on fly patterns from the line of scrimmage to the end zone. Ward-May completed 12 of 18 passes for 341 yards and 5 touchdowns. Artis hauled in four of the TD passes. Artis caught the other touchdown and returned two interceptions 95 and 85 yards for touchdowns to account for the other Orange (2-1) scores. Ward-May was intercepted twice.

The passing game was more than adequate for the Cougars. Freshman quarterback Brandon Robinson opened the scoring for the game, throwing a first-quarter 35-yard touchdown pass to starting quarterback/occasional slot receiver Martinez.

Columbia tried to counteract the Tornadoes speed on offense, focusing on its running game to keep the ball away from the lightning-quick Orange offense. Running backs Kiambu Jones and Kwasi Graham, Quarterback Jimmy Martinez made grudging progress throughout the game, before the Orange defense concentrated on the Cougars’ rushing efforts.

Leading 14-7 with about three minutes left in the first half, Columbia was controlling the action and moving down the field, trying to close in for a third score with about two minutes left in the first half.

Freshman quarterback Brandon Robinson dropped back to throw, targeting senior wide receiver Joseph Oyenuga. Orange safety Ahiajh Broomes stepped in front of Oyenuga, snatched the pass, and ran 95 yards to the end zone. The Cougars moved the ball to midfield, but couldn’t stop the clock.

The Tornadoes outscored the Cougars 32-7 in the second half, owed to the passing game and a second Artis TD run after intercepting a Martinez throw.

The Cougars never gave up as the second half wound down. Martinez connected with junior wide receiver Ramesh Rugbeer on a 40-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.

Rugbeer had four catches for big chunks of yardage against the Orange secondary, but was a complementary figure as Coach John Power continued to try to control the game on the ground.

The Cougars won’t have too long to obsess over this game, with a rare Thursday night game, at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 against West Orange.

MIXED SIGNALS: The scoreboard at Bell Stadium stopped working with about 4 minutes left in the first quarter and the school made no attempt to fix the problem. The fans— and, more importantly, the players and coaches — were left with no clue about the status of the game they were playing. The officials crew did precious little to keep the coaches aware of the time left throughout the game, making it impossible for coaches to plan their play calling and timeouts properly throughout the game. In addition, the referees negated three plays in which the Tornadoes had 12 men on the field or took too long to run a play.

TURNING POINT: Robinson’s interception killed the momentum and confidence that the Cougars were building.

LATE HIT: Late in the second half, sophomore running back Kiambu Jones was being hauled down when a defender drilled Jones in a helmet-to-helmet hit. Jones crumbled to the field, the referees never threw a flag, and the Cougars coaching staff went ballistic. Refs miss calls, but the Orange crew working the first-down chains said, “He’s been doing that since youth ball.”

Jones suffered a mild shoulder injury, sat out the rest of the first half, and returned to play the entire second half.

OPEN-MIC NIGHT: The Orange High School announcer used what appears to be his signature call — “That’s a first down, and sooooo much more!” — quite often during the game. He didn’t seem to realize that the microphone was “live” even when he wasn’t calling the action.

He touted the offerings at the concession stand: “Delectable delights at affordable prices! International cuisine to support the program!” During the break in the action during halftime, he was heard saying, “Yeah, It’s a new microphone. We haven’t said anything nasty — yet!”

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