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La Center 40, Columbia High 12

Bruins can't overcome Wildcats' fast start

Last Friday's Trico Division football game at La Center quickly got away from Columbia.

The Bruins, penalized for being offsides on the opening kickoff, gave up a long return to the Wildcats' Emanuel Mendez on the reboot.

Two plays later, Mendez punched it in from the 1-yard line and Mort Murray kicked the point-after try for a 7-0 La Center lead with just 1:17 gone off the clock.

That was as good as things got for Columbia (2-2 in Trico, 4-3 overall) on a night when the rain fell steadily and made holding onto the ball a slippery proposition.

The Bruins lost a fumble--the first of their four turnovers--after taking their opening drive to the Wildcats' 46-yard line.

This time, La Center, playing in front of a packed house for its homecoming game, needed just one play to score. The Wildcats' second touchdown came on a 54-yard run by A.J. McGraw.

Still, the Bruins tried to make a game of it.

Their second drive had the Wildcats' defense scrambling to contain CHS wingbacks Andrew Culp and Mason Giovannoni before running out of downs at LC's 24.

La Center (3-1, 5-2) took over and put together its longest scoring march of the night. A 30-yard touchdown pass from Michael Britschgi to James Carr with 4:09 remaining in the first quarter completed the 76-yard drive.

"We actually moved the ball pretty well but the bottom line was, we weren't consistent enough in our execution to sustain our drives," Bruins Coach Matthew Whitmire said.

The Wildcats eventually led, 26-0, before the Bruins got on the scoreboard.

Culp scored on a run of 58 yards with 3:05 remaining in the half to break up La Center's shutout.

Columbia, however, couldn't build on its late-in-the-half success.

Mendez recovered a CHS fumble at Columbia's 43 with 10:15 to play in the third quarter.

La Center capitalized on the good field position, driving for a 12-yard touchdown run by Murray, who tacked on the PAT for a 33-6 lead.

The Bruins countered with a 56-yard scoring drive that fullback Devin Dean capped with a 1-yard plunge.

"Our kids didn't quit," Whitmire said. "They (the Wildcats) were just that much better than us."

La Center finished the game with 411 yards of offense. Columbia totaled 259 yards, including 220 on the ground.

Culp led the Bruins with 163 yards: 124 rushing and 39 receiving.

Sideline notes:

Culp passed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. He has 1,024 yards rushing with three games remaining...Giovannoni paced the CHS defense with eight tackles and five asissts. Culp and Josh Burrell each tallied seven tackles and three assists.

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