Photo/Zach Buckley

By Zach Buckley

Sylva-Bay came into Friday nights game as the underdog and put the Cougars into a dogfight for four quarters. Columbia is one of the more physical teams the Saints have faced in 2018, and the Saints rose to the occasion.

“It’s a huge win for our program. We beat a quality team (Columbia Academy). They are as good as any 2-5 team anywhere right now. They are very well coached,” noted Sylva-Bay head coach Terry Underwood.

The Saints would need things to go their way early to stay with the bigger, more physical Columbia Cougars. Ty Crosby picked up where he left off last week and found the paydirt early in the first quarter to put the Saints up six points. The PAT was blocked by the Cougars. With a minute left in the quarter, Crosby scored from four yards and added a diving two-point conversion. 

“We came out. We got up on them 14-0. We knew they would fight back,” said Underwood.

The Cougars answered with their 40-yard touchdown, and two-point conversion with 8:39 left in the second quarter. That would end all scoring for the half. Both defenses dug their heels in, and would not give up another point until 1:38 mark of the contest. Columbia connected on a 12-yd TD along with another two-pointer.

Sylva-Bay lost their lead with very little time on the clock and no timeouts left. Ty Crosby took the final kickoff and was one block away from a return for a touchdown. The Saints took over at midfield with 1:27 seconds. After a few nifty runs by quarterback Phillip Anderson, the Saints found themselves in a dramatic finish. 

“Hey, they (Columbia) scored and get ahead 16-14 with 1:38, and we have no timeouts. I didn’t see the panic in our guys’ eyes. I didn’t see the panic in our coaches. We were able to take the ball down the field. These kids achieve everything I ask and more. They fight. They’re tough, and if we can keep improving, there’s no telling what we can do.” said Underwood of his Sylva-Bay team.

With 27 seconds left, Ty Crosby took a sweep around the right side to put the final nail in the Cougars’ coffin. The Saints would go on to win 20-16. Crosby scored all 20 points for the Saints, but don’t let that stat fool you. Sylva-Bay won this game as a team. They would not back up or give in to the pressure of losing.

The improvement Sylva-Bay has made in one year has been nothing short of amazing. They were 1-7 at this point in 2017. This year they are 6-2 with a strong chance of finishing 8-2 with a district championship. 

“I didn’t think we would have won five games to this point before the year started, but I’ll say this ‘young people will fool you.’ Our kids committed to this in the off-season. They worked their butts off for this. They all play for each other. We don’t have any individuals,” bragged Underwood on his team. He continued to praise his Saints, “I’d like to sit here and tell you I did this or that to make them win, but we have great kids here at Sylva-Bay who worked hard to be 6-2. It would be outstanding to go 8-2 and win the district championship.”

Sylva-Bay travels to play an important district game at Ben’s Ford Christian next Friday. Underwood commented on his opponent, “Ben’s Ford is a quality team, and we will have to prepare for them. I know that they will be ready to play. The only district win we have is over Newton, and we need to win the next two weeks to be district champions.”