Bulldogs force 7 turnovers -
COLUMBIA -- Columbia Academy extended its winning streak to six games in quick and decisive fashion, opening the Division II-A playoffs Friday with a 69-20 win over visiting Mt. Juliet Christian.
The Bulldogs (6-5), who will travel to Friendship Christian for a second-round matchup, scored 20 points in the first seven minutes Friday and forced seven turnovers on the night.
"We had a lot of guys that made plays for us," CA coach Charlie Lansdell said. "I was really happy with the turnovers that we were able to create, and then capitalizing off those turnovers. I think every time that we were able to force a turnover, we scored. So that's always good when your defense and special teams can help you out offensively."
Among those turnovers were a pair of 'pick-6s', as Collins Malone intercepted a Christian Link pass and returned it 30 yards to give the hosts a 20-0 cushion at the five-minute mark of the first quarter.
With less than a minute remaining in the first half, the Bulldog defense struck again as Jahdell Lee Quay grabbed an errant Link pass and took it 30 yards to make it a 41-7 game at intermission.
It was the second Lee Quay pickoff of the period, as he previously intercepted a pass in the red zone to stop a Saints drive. The ensuing CA possession ended with Lee Quay scoring on a 1-yard run.
Malone added a second interception after halftime, setting up a Bryant Beranek scoring run.
Offensively, CA riddled Mt. Juliet Christian (3-7) for 460 rushing yards on 56 carries, all coming from an array of contributors.
"We don't focus on just one back," Lansdell said. "We don't have that premier back that's gonna get 25, 30 carries a game. But we have a lot of different very good backs, we feel like. And so, we spread the ball around and feel like that makes us a little bit more dangerous of a team. And all those guys performed well tonight for us."
Max Ballard added two touchdown runs in the opening half, as seven different ballcarriers scored for the hosts.
The visiting Saints finished with 253 offensive yards, but finished with minus-14 rushing yards on five carries.
"Our defense, we were doing a really good job," Lee Quay said. "There's a few things that we could tighten up on, like some of our man coverage, not letting them get easy yardage, and making tackles when we need to. But, I think that we did a really good job and we can continue this roll."
Link threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns, along with his four interceptions. Jack Crouch had eight receptions for 208 yards and both scores.
"You learn from everything," MJCA coach Dan Davis said. "Iron sharpens iron. So, the biggest thing is that we know that we need to grow up. We need to get in the weight room, we need to do extra work, and we do those things, we'll be very successful next year. And I think that's a takeaway. It's great we got to the playoffs, but we want more than that. And we've been successful, so we have something to build on."
Friendship Christian had an opening-round playoff bye as the No. 1 seed from the East Region.
Lansdell said his team will take the same approach to its matchup with the Commanders as it did Friday.
"Continue to do what we do best, and try to get better," he said. "This week, we're gonna go back to work and focus on Friendship, and try to put together a game plan that we can go over there and hopefully compete with them and give them a good game, give ourselves a chance to win."