OBERLIN — Devan Yarber did it all for Oberlin in a wild win Friday night.
The senior quarterback ran for 288 yards and had five total touchdowns — including on two of his three interceptions on defense — in Oberlin’s 34-20 win over Columbia.
The loss eliminated the Raiders from the Division VI, Region 21 playoffs, as they finished 5-5 overall and 2-3 in the Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division. Oberlin finished 5-5, 4-1.
“The kids, they just came out and played,” Oberlin coach Mike Akers said. “They were playing for something. It’s just a great night and an incredible feeling.”
Yarber helped jump-start the Phoenix right out of the gate after a topsy-turvy first half in which Oberlin’s 22-point lead dwindled to two. The Phoenix stuffed Columbia on the 1-yard line three times to prevent the go-ahead touchdown before halftime.
On the first play of the third quarter, Yarber scored from 49 yards. This after rushing touchdowns of 53 and 5 yards. On certain plays, Columbia had Yarber bottled up for a loss or no gain, but time and time again he’d power his way through defenders and break free for a big gain.
And once he got to the outside, he was uncatchable, with his five rushes of at least 23 yards as proof.
“My dad told me to just keep churning my feet,” Yarber said. “I just keep churning my feet, keep churning my feet. That’s it.”
Oberlin built a 22-0 lead thanks to two Columbia fumbles and a 48-yard interception return by Yarber, but saw it slip away with 100 yards of penalties — including five unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
Turnovers also affected the Phoenix. Just after Yarber burned Columbia for a 16-yard gain on third-and-12, Columbia’s Matt Caraballo helped force and recover a fumble by running back Devin Randleman. The Raiders pulled within two points with the ensuing touchdown drive.
“I got through the line and saw the ball pop out,” Caraballo said. “I don’t think anyone else saw it so I probably could have taken it and ran with it, but at that stage in the game you just want to fall on it.”
In the fourth quarter — with Oberlin leading 28-20 — both teams had plenty of opportunities to seal the deal. Columbia’s first drive ended with Oberlin’s Riley Horning sacking Jared Bycznski for an 8-yard loss, setting up the Phoenix on the Columbia 42-yard line.
Three plays later, Yarber broke free for a 26-yard run to the 3 but fumbled into the end zone for a touchback.
Columbia looked like it was getting its offense going, with Bycznski finding tight end Adam Ross on a 9-yard slant then fullback Adam Alten running for 10. But three plays later a fumbled snap set Oberlin back up on the Raiders 43-yard line.
Yarber picked up 16 yards on two plays, sandwiched around a Columbia unsportsmanlike conduct that took Oberlin to the 18-yard line. A fumbled snap killed the drive with 5:31 left.
Bycznski took a shot deep for Ross, but instead found Yarber for his second interception. A personal foul by the Phoenix negated the 17-yard return.
Columbia forced a stop and partially blocked the Oberlin punt after a bad snap. However, the low punt took a wild bounce and hit off a Raiders player, with Oberlin recovering at the Columbia 42, just 3 yards ahead of where the Phoenix punted.
Oberlin drove to the 9 but stalled on fourth-and-goal — though Yarber almost reached the end zone on a 7-yard run. He’d find it free and clear four plays later, picking Bycznski for the third time for the sealing 12-yard touchdown.
“Turnovers have been a staple of our football team all year,” Columbia coach Jason Ward said. “We’ve been turning the ball over at an alarming rate all year and we’ve tried everything we can think of to fix it. We’ve been on the plus side of turnovers for a long, long time in a big way, but this year it just didn’t work out.”
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or email@example.com. Follow him @CSweeneyCT on Twitter.
Oberlin 34, Columbia 20
Columbia 7 13 0 0 — 20
Oberlin 22 0 6 6 — 34
O — Devan Yarber, 53 run (Ravon Eisom run)
O — Yarber, 5 run (Yarber run)
O — Yarber, 48 interception (pass fail)
C — Cole Schwartz, 5 run (Ben Skowronsky kick)
C — Jared Bycznski, 10 run (Skowronsky kick)
C — Schwartz, 26 run (kick fail)
O — Yarber, 49 run (run fail)
O — Yarber, 12 interception (run fail)
First downs 16 11
— by rushing 15 10
— by passing 1 0
— by penalty 0 1
Yards rushing 274 333
Yards passing 42 0
Total offense 316 333
Passes att./comp. 4/14 2/0
Intercepted by 3 0
Fumbles/lost 4/4 7/4
Penalties/yards 4/50 12/135
RUSHING — (C) Cole Schwartz 24-129, Jared Bycznski 20-97, Adam Alten 10-48. (O) Devan Yarber 28-288, Ravon Eisom 11-39, Devin Randleman 4-6.
PASSING — (C) Bycznski 4-14-42-0-3. (O) Yarber 0-2-0-0-0.
RECEIVING — (C) Adam Ross 2-43, Schwartz 1-0, Bailey Coleman 1-(-1).