A talented Columbia team defeated Ponte Vedra 14-7 in the opening round of the playoffs last Friday, Nov. 8 as the Sharks closed out their season with a record of 7-3. It was the third straight year when the Sharks have seen their season come to a close in the first game in the playoffs.
A persistent rain, coupled with heavy winds that limited Ponte Vedra’s vaunted passing attack to but 59 yards, played a huge part in the Shark defeat. First year head coach Jeff DiSandro, his players and coaches can take solace that the 2019 Sharks were an overachieving pack of gridders who incurred an abnormal amount of key injuries in posting their winning record.
Columbia, before dropping 3 of their last 4 games, were rated as the number 1 rated team in the entire state in Division 6A, and with the win over PVHS, have shown they will now be a tough out throughout the playoffs.
The visiting Tigers from Lake City took advantage of great field position early in the first half in posting all 14 of their points. Following a PVHS punt that only reached midfield, coupled with a Shark penalty for interfering with the receiver, Columbia only had to traverse 30 yards to score their first touchdown on a pass from Damon Smith to a wide-open Daniel Bennett.
In what would prove to be the winning points of the contest, Columbia would march 49 yards that culminated in a short 1 yard TD pass from Smith to Marquez Bell. The big play in the drive was when Columbia converted on a critical fourth down passing play to keep their drive alive. The successful extra point with 9:15 made the score 14-0 and would be the last points Columbia would tally against the string-willed Ponte Vedra defense.
After a scoreless third quarter that was played in a driving rain, the Sharks received a big break early in the 4th quarter when Kyle Bondra recovered a Columbia fumble deep in Tiger territory. It took but one play for the Sharks to score their first, and only TD on the evening when junior running back Campbell Parker dashed into the end zone from 7 yards out to instill hope for the Sharks.
After the Tigers turned the ball over on downs deep in Ponte Vedra territory the Sharks began a long drive with hopes of tieing up the game. TJ Glod teamed up with Jack Polian on a third and long to pick up a first down.
Mixing up their offense with the run and the pass the Sharks had moved from their own 4-yard line down to inside the Tigers 40-yard line before the drive stalled. Columbia then ran out the clock to end the Shark season.