MONTICELLO — Missed opportunities were too much for Columbus to overcome as the Sailors fell 35-14 at Monticello in their season finale Friday.
Columbus’ defense looked sharp for most of the first half, even recording a goal-line stand at the 1-yard line early in the second quarter.
The offense also had its moments in the first 24 minutes, getting inside Panther territory three times. But mistakes, especially on the first and last drives of the half, prevented the Sailors from grabbing the lead.
Columbus reached the Monticello 31 on the opening series, but quarterback Parker Westoff was picked off by Dallas Bowser.
Down 6-0 in the closing moments of the half, Westoff and Mitch McFarland appeared to connect for a 17-yard gain on third-and-eight. But the play was negated by a holding penalty, halting another potential scoring drive.
“We didn’t execute,” Sailors coach Brad Schmit said. “Everything we ran was working well. It just came down to execution. We just shot ourselves in the foot.”
After making big mistakes of their own in the first half, the Panther offense finally got clicking in the third quarter. The lead reached 12-0 when Andrew Mescher wrestled a jump ball away from a Sailor defender at the goal line for a 33-yard touchdown.
Max Keleher then put things out of reach on the next series, catching a screen from quarterback Jacob Manternach and breaking free for a 49-yard score.
Keleher, a 1,100-yard rusher who burned the Sailors for 247 yards a season ago, was suspended for the first half for a violation of team rules. He added a second touchdown on a four-yard run in the fourth quarter.
In his final game, McFarland provided most of Columbus’ highlights in the fourth quarter, catching a pair of seven-yard touchdown passes, the first of which was set up by his strip sack at the Panther 8-yard line.
“I just wanted to put it all out and help my team win,” McFarland said. “Obviously we didn’t do that, but I’m just happy we played our heart out.”
Following a 1-8 season, Schmit believes he has enough returning talent to take a big step forward next season, but says it’s on the players to maximize their ability.
“You win football games from November to August, not August to November,” he said. “We really have to batten down the hatches and work harder than we have in an offseason. And it’s got to start Monday.
Monticello 35, Columbus 14
Columbus 0 0 0 14 — 14
Monticello 0 6 14 15— 35
Mon — Devin Kraus 25 pass from Jacob Manternach (kick failed)
Mon — Andrew Mescher 33 pass from Manternach (run failed)
Mon — Max Keleher 51 pass from Manternach (Dallas Bowser pass from Chase Luensman)
Col — Mitch McFarland 7 pass from Parker Westoff (kick blocked)
Mon — Gavin Cooper 8 run (Kirklen Kiburz run)
Mon— Keleher 4 run (Tony Wallerich kick)
Col — McFarland 7 pass from Westoff Kaden Ludwig pass from Kobe Nobis)
First downs 18-20
Passing yards 170 221
Comp-att-int 18-34-3 12-34-0
Return yards 129 59
Punts-avg. 5-35 5-34.8
Fumbles-lost 2-1 3-0
Penalties-yards 7-75 3-25
COLUMBUS — Kobe Nobis 11-51, Donald Patnode 3-21, Nick Augustine 7-19, Donald Patnode 1-3, Ray Seidel 4-minus-4
MONTICELLO — Jacob Manternach 10-56, Max Keleher 8-38, Dallas Bowser 3-24, Jon Mootz 1-10, Toy Wallerich 1-2.
COLMBUS — Parker Westhoff 18-33-3, 170 yards, Ray Seidel 0-1-0.
MONTICELLO — Manternach 12-34-1, 221 yards.
COLUMBUS — Kaden Ludwig 4-63, Mitch McFarland 4-25, Nobis 5-17, Seidel 1-10, Patnode 1-3
MONTICELLO — Andrew Mescher 4-105, Keleher 1-49, Devin Kraus 3-35, Gavin Cooper 2-23, Bowser 1-7, Tony Wallerich 1-2.