A pair of fourth-quarter miscues doomed Columbia High to a 27-7 loss to Forks last Friday in a non-league football game played at Montesano High School.
The Spartans' defense recovered a bad snap on a punt attempt and a fumble in the CHS end zone for touchdowns to put the game out of the Bruins' reach.
Columbia's lone touchdown came in the second quarter on a pass from junior quarterback Jon Bryan to senior receiver Marcus Giovannoni. The ensuing extra-point kick cut Forks' lead to six.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, trailing 13-7, Columbia had a 50-yard gain -- from another Bryan-to-Giovannoni connection -- to Forks' 20-yard line nullified by a holding penalty.
In the second quarter, the Bruins went for it and came up short on fourth-and-1 at the Spartans' 15-yard line. They went into halftime down 13-7.
"We had our opportunities to score more points, we just didn't take advantage of them," Bruins Coach Scott Ross said.
"But, even though we lost, we (the coaches) walked away from the game feeling the kids played hard and that we had the opportunity to win the game with a lot of young kids in there, which we hope, three or four games down the road, will pay dividends by giving us the depth we don't have right now," he added.
Early on, it looked as if the Spartans were going to run away from the Bruins.
They jumped out to a quick 13-0 lead, scoring TDs and compiling more than half of their first downs and nearly half of their 252 total yards on their first two drives of the game.
Forks ended the first half with 183 yards -- all on the ground -- and eight first downs on its offensive ledger.
In the second half, Columbia High's makeshift defense (with five new starters) held the Spartans scoreless and to just 74 yards -- again, all rushing -- and three first downs.
Ross said the defense, led by senior linebackers Simon Wilkerson (9 tackles, 4 assists) and James Cowan (5 tackles, 5 assists), turned in another strong performance, even though the Bruins started three freshmen (two at defensive end) and two sophomores.
"After those first two drives, those young kids were able to adjust to the speed of the game and played well," he continued. "We did a good job of shutting Forks down for the rest of the game. We just couldn't get anything going consistently on the other side of the ball."
Columbia, which had struggled on offense in each of its two previous games, finished with a season-high 188 yards of total offense (117 rushing, 71 passing) and seven first downs in 41 plays.
The touchdown pass from Bryan to Giovannoni was Columbia's first since the first quarter of the Bruins' season opener against Goldendale.
"I thought Jon threw the ball pretty well," Ross said in completing 3 of 6 attempts. "And, overall, our execution on offense was better. But we probably had five or six plays that, with better execution, we would've broken for big yardage."
So, he added, "though we got a little better on offense, we still have things we need to work on to develop the timing and consistency that are the keys to good execution."