COLUMBUS — Grand Island Senior High used a dominant ground game and a swarming defense to post a 35-7 road victory over Columbus Friday night.
The Islanders (1-1) bounced back from a season-opening loss at Kearney to pile up 363 yards of total offense — 354 yards rushing — while building a 35-0 lead. Columbus (0-2) finished with 136 total yards with 65 yards coming on Tyler Knuth's touchdown run with 1:40 to play in the game.
"It was really a good win," Grand Island coach Jeff Tomlin said. "I was really happy with the kids to come out and have such a good week of practice. I really feel the key to this win was a great week of preparation."
Pete Lewis led Grand Island's rushing attack with 114 yards and two TDs on 17 carries. Brandon Krecklow added 80 yards rushing on nine carries, Chris Senkbile had 60 yards on four carries and Brandon Hudiburgh totaled 46 yards on five carries.
"I was really pleased with the play of the offensive line," Tomlin said. "They made great improvement over last week and I thought our backs ran really hard.
"Offensively, we made great strides execution-wise."
Grand Island's defense was also solid, limiting Columbus to minus-19 yards of total offense and two first downs in the first half.
Defensive ends Jake Riha and Jake Gdowski led the way. Riha had a team-high nine tackles, while Gdowski had seven tackles and three sacks.
Eric Williams added seven tackles from his linebacker spot for GISH. Jay Kropp came up with a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions to set up scores for the Islanders.
"I thought the defense played well last week and they really came out to play tonight," Tomlin said. "We did a really good job of limiting Columbus on first down. We kept them in a lot of second-and-long and third-and-long situations and did a really good job on third down of closing them out."
After a scoreless first quarter, Senkbile put Grand Island on the board first on a 1-yard TD run with 11:56 left in the second quarter. Paul Pankoke's point-after kick put the Islanders ahead 7-0.
Senkbile later had runs of 47 and nine yards to set up a 6-yard scoring run by Lewis with 6:29 left before halftime. Pankoke's PAT made it 14-0 Grand Island.
The Islanders slipped another score in before halftime as Pete Lewis scored from four yards out, putting GISH ahead 21-0.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but Kropp's interception with 5:44 to play set up a 40-yard TD run by Krecklow, increasing the Islander advantage to 28-0 with 4:46 left.
Kropp came up with another interception to produce Grand Island's final score. Michael Tomlin scored on a 15-yard run on a fourth-down play to give the Islanders a 35-0 lead with 1:55 to go.
Columbus avoided the shutout with 1:40 remaining as Knuth raced 65 yards for a TD. It was the first points of the season for the Discoverers.
The win may have been costly for the Islanders, however. Running back Adam Reed suffered a high-ankle sprain early in the second quarter and Senkbile injured a hamstring.
Tomlin said the status of Reed and Senkbile for next week is unknown. Grand Island was already playing without two starters in Kaisone Souvannasoth (shoulder) and Kyle Faz, who's out for the season with a knee injury.