The Columbia Raiders don’t know what hit them.
Devan Yarber electrified the Phoenix offense Friday, bringing home five touchdowns in Oberlin’s 34-20 win to close out the season.
From his jump-start 55-yard touchdown run in the first minute of the game to his three game-changing interception catches, the senior quarterback seems to have a knack for making things happen.
The win assures the Phoenix a record — four consecutive wins in the Patriot Athletic Conference — a mark the team hasn’t seen since 2008.
The loss eliminated the Raiders from the Division VI Region 21 playoffs as they finished 5-5 overall and 2-3 in the PAC. Oberlin finished 5-5, 4-1.
Two recovered fumbles, two-point conversions, and a 48-yard pick six by Yarber built an explosive 22-point lead against Columbia, bringing the crowd to a lion’s roar.
But 100 yards in penalties against the Phoenix, including five unsportsmanlike conduct fouls and two player ejections, tapered the score 22-20.
Halftime locker room speeches and a break to shake the nerves did the Phoenix well. On the first play of the third quarter, Yarber landed a 49-yard run touchdown.
Columbia also came ready to trample and had the Oberlin offense trapped in a mob of linebackers for most of the second half. But over and over, Yarber broke through from the other side, leaving the Raiders to eat his dust.
In the fourth quarter, the game’s outcome was up in the air. With the Phoenix leading 28-20, they zeroed in to eat the clock while the Raiders were hard-pressed to change their fate. Back-and-forth action made the fourth quarter a nail-biter, with plenty of fumbles and interceptions.
Plagued by penalties and a wet, muddy field, the last five minutes of the game stalled. Columbia’s wheels started churning after partially blocking an Oberlin punt, but the ball took an unexpected bounce and hit off a Raiders player. Oberlin recovered at the Columbia 42.
Yarber almost reached the end zone on a seven-yard run but the Phoenix were sandwiched on the goal line. Four plays later, he nailed the winning touchdown, sending the team, coaches, and fans into hysterics.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.