PALMER -- Colony took advantage of East’s mistakes Friday to earn a 23-13 non-conference win on the opening night of the high school football season.
The Knights scored 10 points off turnovers, including what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.
After Jordan Nero recovered an East fumble, Colony responded with a 12-play, 77-yard scoring drive. Tucker Looney capped the drive when he hauled in a 39-yard touchdown pass from Colony quarterback Steven Bilafer to put the Knights ahead 14-7 with 3:40 left in the third quarter. Bilafer found a wide-open Looney down the left sideline on fourth-and-13.
The touchdown pass marked the second time on the drive that Colony converted on fourth down. Earlier, it was Bilafer scrambling for a 12-yard gain on a fake punt.
Taking risks is part Colony coach Brian McIntosh’s philosophy -- hence his “go big or go home” T-shirt.
Colony gambled -- and converted -- again on fourth down during its first drive of the final quarter. Bilafer connected with Robert Nash on a 9-yard strike to put the Knights on East’s 15-yard line. Two plays later, Logan Conway found the end zone on a 15-yard run.
Conway, who scored twice, carried the bulk of the load for Colony, accounting for 28 of the team’s 43 carries and 117 of its 191 rushing yards.
Together, Conway and Bilafer rushed for 180 yards on 41 carries. It wasn’t until early in the fourth quarter that someone other than Conway or Bilafer ran the ball.
East's costly block-in-the-back penalty set up Conway’s second TD. Instead of first-and-goal, the T-birds faced fourth down on Colony’s 40 because of the penalty, which negated a long run by Parker Martin.
East’s second lost fumble set up a 23-yard Harrison Menard field goal to put Colony up 23-7 with less than a minute to play.
“It comes down to turnovers and penalties,” East coach Jeff Trotter said. “Bad things at wrong times.”
Martin led all rushers with 131 yards,about half of them coming on a 63-yard touchdown with 14 seconds to go.
After a scoreless first quarter, East took a 7-0 lead when Alani Collins took a 5-yard run up the middle early in the second quarter.
Colony responded with an 8-play, 38-yard scoring drive on its ensuing possession capped by a 1-yard touchdown by Conway.
East 0 7 0 6 -- 13
Colony 0 7 7 9 -- 23
East – Collins 5 run (Leonard kick), 9:18
Colony – Conway 1 run (Menard kick), 6:53
Colony – Bilafer 39 pass to Looney (Menard kick), 3:40
Colony – Conway 15 run (kick blocked), 6:57
Colony – Menard 23 field goal, 0:59
East – Martin 63 run (run fail), 0:14
Reach Mike Nesper at firstname.lastname@example.org