Columbus coach Chris Merritt had an analogy for his team's imperfect win against Southridge that was probably very relatable to some of his players.
“Just like prom dates, they don't always have to be pretty to be a date,” Merritt said.
It wasn't exactly the prom queen, but Columbus brought a girl to the dance as the Explorers eked out a 17-13 victory against host Southridge on Friday night.
Freshman running back Darren Davis Jr., going up against the team his father and uncle once played for, had six of his 92 yards go for a touchdown with 2:15 remaining to give Columbus (3-0) the decisive lead.
Never miss a local story.
“It's strange because I'm playing where [my family's] legacy was made as a freshman," Davis Jr. said. "I had to make something happen.”
The go-ahead touchdown run was set up by a 42-yard deep ball over the middle from Alejandro Ros to Jerron Rollins.
Southridge (2-1) had its final drive extended by a roughing-the-passer penalty after a fourth-down stop, but quarterback Drakar Jerry's final heave to the end zone was intercepted as time expired by Trajan Bandy.
Down 13-3 late in the third quarter, junior running back CJ Henderson, who added 51 rushing yards Friday, scored from 4 yards out to cut into the deficit.
Southridge took a 7-3 lead right before halftime when Jerry hit Malik Spatcher at the pylon for a 7-yard touchdown. Cliff Smith Jr. added to the Spartans' lead with a score from 9 yards out in the third.
“Our kids put ourselves in a situation we probably shouldn't have been in, and I'm proud of the way they fought back,” Merritt said.