The Columbus Explorers opened up district play with a victory, defeating the Miami High Stingarees 31-0 on Friday night at Curtis Park.
With the win, the Explorers (2-2, 1-0 Class 8A-14) avoided a three-game losing skid and provided a much-needed boost.
“We needed this win in a lot of ways,” Columbus coach Chris Merritt said. “[Friday night] made us feel a lot better. Offensively, we finally got into the end zone in the ground game and our defense really stiffened up in the end.”
Explorers running back Yael Gomez punched in two short-yardage touchdown runs in the first half to help Columbus take an early lead. Gomez finished with seven rushes for 56 yards.
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With less than two minutes left in the second quarter, a botched punt allowed Columbus quarterback Macelo Rodriguez to connect with wide receiver Orlando Hidalgo for a 21-yard touchdown pass to give the Explorers a 21-0 halftime lead.
The Stingarees offense failed to gain traction against the Explorers defense, finishing the game with 139 yards of total offense.
A nine-minute drive to open the third quarter by Miami High (0-3, 0-1 Class 8A-14) nearly ended in a touchdown, getting as close as the 5-yard line. But the Stingarees failed to find the end zone and Columbus blocked the ensuing field-goal attempt to preserve the shutout.
Both teams were bogged down by penalties from the opening kickoff until the final whistle, combining for a whopping 320 penalty yards in the contest.