High school football | playoffs

Columbus-Coral Gables matchup to resume Friday after wet start

 

Columbus took a 13-0 second-quarter lead over Coral Gables before heavy rains and lightning stopped play.

a1fernandez@MiamiHerald.com

The Columbus football team waited two months for a chance to avenge its loss to Coral Gables.

The Explorers’ bid for payback got off to a good start Thursday night before severe weather put it on hold.

Heavy rains and lightning forced the suspension of the Region 4-8A semifinal game at Tropical Park with Columbus leading Gables 13-0 with 10:49 remaining in the second quarter.

The game is scheduled to resume at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Traz Powell Stadium prior to Miami Central’s 4-6A game against Fort Lauderdale Dillard at 7:30 p.m.

The Traz doubleheader is part of an already exciting second-round playoff schedule that includes a rematch between South Dade and Killian on the other half of the Region 4-8A bracket.

That game is scheduled to be played at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tropical Park. But according to the Greater Miami Athletic Conference, if field conditions are still not playable, the game could be moved to an alternate site — possibly Harris Field.

Since Harris Field has a natural grass surface like Tropical Park, the game could be rescheduled to Saturday night at Traz Powell if inclement weather renders conditions at both stadiums unplayable.

Lightning in the area forced an initial 30-minute delay. After both teams attempted to resume play, heavy rains and field flooding forced the game to be suspended. The site change was prompted by the fact Traz has field turf.

Columbus (7-4) will have a chance to take a commanding lead in its game against Coral Gables (10-1) when play resumes. Gables fumbled on the final play before the game was stopped and Columbus senior linebacker Manuel Gallo recovered at the Cavaliers’ 5-yard line.

Columbus appeared to handle the wet conditions better than Gables throughout the first quarter as Gables fumbled four times and had three more high snaps that were nearly mishandled. The Cavaliers were held to 1 total yard.

The Explorers offense struck quickly when Sasha Kelsey caught a screen pass over the middle from Tucker Beirne and ran 51 yards for a touchdown to give Columbus a 7-0 lead.

On the ensuing drive, Beirne found Xavier Williams in stride down the sideline for a 61-yard touchdown pass. Columbus couldn’t convert the extra point after the snap was mishandled.

Columbus also built an early 13-0 lead in the regular-season meeting between the two teams before Coral Gables rallied for a 30-27 victory. That win marked the first time Gables beat Columbus since 2006. The Cavaliers went on to win the District 14-8A championship.

Friday’s Miami-Dade County playoff matchups also include a clash of defending state champions between Booker T. Washington and Davie University School at Nova High at 7:30 p.m. The Tornadoes are the reigning Class 4A state champions and the consensus No. 1-ranked team in the nation, and the Suns are the defending Class 3A state champions.

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