Kirtland’s one-two punch of Jake Neibecker and Joey Torok proved too much for host Columbia as the Hornets rolled to a 49-7 win in a matchup of Division VI, Region 21 rivals.
Neibecker and Torok combined for 234 rushing yards and five scores in the win.
“Columbia was definitely a very tough team and we knew that,” Neibecker said. “We prepared all week and knew that we had to work hard if you wanted to beat them. We knew that (Brandon) Coleman is a really good back and if we wanted to stop them it would start with stopping him. We wanted to come out and dominate in all phases of the game and I think we did that pretty well. They were fighting the whole game but we just kept bringing it on every play and played well. We had a lot of energy and it was great to play a good game from start to finish.”
Coleman, Columbia’s standout back, rushed for just 42 yards on 11 carries.
Neibecker, who carried 14 times for a game-high 121 yards, scored the first of his three touchdowns on a five-yard run with 8:15 left in the first quarter.
He added a seven-yard touchdown run three minutes into the second quarter to give the Hornets a 14-0 lead.
Columbia responded with a 29-yard touchdown pass but Torok ran for a 16-yard touchdown then recovered a blocked punt in the end zone to increase the Kirtland lead to 28-7 with 35 seconds left in the first half.
“We played hard tonight,” Torok said. “We knew that was a team we couldn’t take lightly. It was a good win for us moving forward.”
Torok, who ran for 113 yards on 11 carries, opened the third quarter with a 26-yard touchdown run.
“Our offensive line is so awesome to run behind,” Torok said. “They are big and strong and they work hard every day in practice to get better. They take pride in what they do and I’m so grateful to have them blocking for my teammates and me.”
Neibecker added a 38-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and Liam Powers connected with Tommy Drazetic on a 38-yard touchdown pass in the fourth to close out the scoring.
Kirtland outgained Columbia, 385-181, with 311 of those yards coming via the rushing attack.
“The offensive line went to work tonight,” Neibecker said. “They were opening up big holes on every play and it showed. They were doing a great job of getting to the second level to allow us to pop some longer runs. We really came together as a unit and brought our best. We still have some stuff to clean up, though. I think tonight was a nice step forward for the offense but we still need to get better.”
Kirtland (2-0) travels to Geneva on Friday.