WATERLOO — After his team struggled to score in its opening two games, Mitch McFarland decided to take matters into his own hands Friday night.
The Waterloo Columbus senior receiver accounted for all of the Sailors’ points, and his defense did the rest of the heavy lifting in a 14-0 win over Oelwein Friday night.
Three plays after his team converted a fourth-and-seven, McFarland broke a scoreless tie on the Sailors’ second possession, powering over the goal line on a 10-yard slant route from quarterback Parker Westhoff to give Columbus a 7-0 lead.
Two possessions later, he was in the end zone again, as he slipped behind the Husky defense, then broke two open-field tackles on his way to a 58-yard score.
McFarland, who finished with 110 yards on four catches, was also 2-for-2 on extra point attempts.
“I just tried my hardest to help us win and I got it done in the first half,” said McFarland, who saw his team get outscored 78-7 during an 0-2 start. “Everyone came out with passion. It was kind of different from last week.”
The Columbus offense didn’t have many opportunities to build on its early success. Following McFarland’s second score, the Huskies dominated time of possession, as their offense ran 27 of the next 28 plays.
But timely defensive stops, and numerous Oelwein mistakes ultimately preserved the shutout, Columbus’ first since 2009.
Perhaps the game’s biggest moment came on the final play of the first half. With the Huskies on the Columbus 5 with 2.1 seconds to play, Sailor defensive lineman Blake Freeseman made it an empty trip when he blew through the line to sack Dillon Arndt.
“It seems like in the past, when we’d be in ball games, we’d always give that touchdown up right before the half,” Columbus coach Brad Schmit said. “That was huge. Huge for the psyche for our guys.”
Oelwein got in the red zone two more times in the second half, but both drives ended in turnovers. Kaden Ludwig picked off an Arndt pass in the third quarter and Columbus then recovered a fumbled snap in the fourth.
Also making life difficult for Oelwein was its 111 penalty yards.
Steven Nicolay had 80 yards on a game-high six catches for the Huskies, who’ve scored just eight points during their 0-3 start.
Disappointed with his club’s early showing, Schmit says his team wasn’t filling him with much confidence following a lackluster week of practice. But after challenging his players pregame, he said he was pleased with their response Friday night.
“You’ve got to remain positive. I just told them, ‘You’ve got to play with heart,’” he said. “They have to want it, I can’t want it for them. I challenged them and we made some key plays in key moments. It feels great to get in the win column.”
The Sailors will play Dyersville Beckman next week while Oelwein will host Union.
Columbus 14, Oelwein 0
Oelwein 0 0 0 0 — 0
Columbus 7 7 0 — 14
Col — Mitch McFarland 10 pass from Parker Westhoff (McFarland kick)
Col — McFarland 58 pass from Westhoff (McFarland kick)
First downs 13 7
Rushes-yards 38-91 23-75
Passing yards 130 126
Comp-att-int 10-30-1 8-20-1
Return yards 65 29
Punts-avg. 2-24.5 2-37.5
Fumbles-lost 4-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 12-111 5-35
OELWEIN — Sayer Woodson 15-76, Lukes Crandall 14-33, Cameren Sims 1-0, Dillon Arndt 8-minus 18.
COLUMBUS— Nick Augustine 15-55, Kobe Nobis 3-7, Sam Buser 1-3, Parker Westhoff 4-minus 10.
OELWEIN — Arndt 10-29-1, 130 yards, Woodson 0-1.
COLUMBUS— Westhoff 8-20-1, 126 yards.
OELWEIN — Steven Nicolay 6-80, Woodson 2-29, Dominique Robertson 1-12, Colton Barker 1-9.
COLUMBUS— Mitch McFarland 4-110, Ludwig 1-13, Nobis 2-7, Donald Patnode 1-minus 4.