BLITZ: Crawford boys lift Leo to gritty road win at Columbia City

Leo’s Ethan Crawford works to get clear of Columbia City’s Garrett Geiger (82) and TJ Bedwell (22) during October 9’s game.

Through the ages, we have had plenty of sets of siblings dominate in professional sports, with the greatest needing no surnames to recognize them.

Eli and Peyton.

Venus and Serena.

Vitali and Wladimir.

At the high school level, a pair of gents with the same last name are making names for themselves in Leo…

Rylan and Ethan.

Turns out, however, they aren’t brothers. In fact, they aren’t even related.

The Crawford boys were instrumental in Leo’s 21-7 victory at Columbia City on Friday, making an impact on both sides of the football.

For Rylan, it was a pair of interceptions – including one in the end zone – to go with four receptions for 49 yards and a score.

For the younger Ethan, it was 18 rushes for 107 yards and a touchdown.

A pair of standout performances in a gutsy road win.

Friday’s victory that clinched at least a share of the Northeast 8 championship came in typical Lions fashion. Leo put together long, sustained drives and coupled that with a defense that pressured Columbia City quarterback Greg Bolt at every opportunity.

A back-and-forth first half saw the teams deadlocked at seven at the break, with Rylan having his two picks already in hand. One was particularly clutch.

After Columbia City scored to tie the game late in the first half, the ensuing kickoff caromed off of a Leo player’s leg and was recovered by the Eagles. With time running down before the break, Bolt threw towards the end zone for what would have been a go-ahead score. Instead, Rylan Crawford vaulted up and hauled in his second interception of the game.

Columbia City opened the third quarter with a three and out, with Leo going to work from there. A short punt gave the Lions good field position and went ahead to stay when Ethan Crawford broke loose for a 31-yard touchdown.

The Eagles (6-2) never seriously threatened again.

Leo’s Rylan Crawford lines up during October 9’s game at Columbia City.

If the Lions are to make a run in a very competitive 4A north field, they are going to need standout performances like what the Crawfords have given them. The running game with Kaeden Miller can be limited against good defenses. Columbia City held Leo’s top rusher to 22 yards on seven carries. But Ethan Crawford adds a different dimension in the backfield, while Rylan Crawford is quarterback Jackson Barbour’s top target in the passing game.

The fact that both of them are underclassmen – Rylan a junior and Ethan a sophomore – makes their play even more impressive.

But before looking to the future, Blitz wants to focus on the present. players like the Crawfords have been the catalyst for Leo’s rise back to the top of the NE8, knocking East Noble from its perch in the process. That was reinforced on Friday, with Columbia City looking to prove that it deserved to be in the conference title conversation.

In the end, the result was another Leo league victory, its 16th in the last 17 against NE8 opponents.

With a 7-1 record, a date with DeKalb left and high expectations going into the playoffs, Coach Jared Sauder’s team has a lot to be happy about.

As for the Crawfords? Well, they may not be Eli and Peyton, or even brothers for that matter, but they sure are leading their team when it counts to wins like the Mannings did.

These opinions represent those of Blitz and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Blitz on Twitter at Blitz_OTH

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