Mason receiver Cobi Lewis celebrates after hauling in a touchdown pass in the Comets win over Gahanna Lincoln. (Photo by Lily Haller) 

Andrew Little | Sports Writer

Mason football returned Friday night, August 20 with a 15-7 victory over the Gahanna Lincoln Golden Lions in a game dictated by strong defensive plays.

The Comets offense started out slow with two possessions without a first down, due in part to the Lions defensive line putting pressure on senior quarterback, Michael Molnar. The Mason defense responded by stopping the Lions on their first two opening drives. 

On the Comets’ third possession, junior Larsen Brown entered as quarterback and injected life into the offense, immediately throwing a ten yard touchdown pass to junior tight end, Quinten Kaylor, giving Mason a 6-0 lead ending the first quarter. Brown and Molnar alternated as signal callers throughout the night.

Starting the second quarter, the Comet’s defense continued to shine led by junior linebacker, Jake Bates, and junior defensive back, Tyler Wilson, as they both provided the team with crucial stops on third downs. Bates’ big night progressed as he tackled the Lion’s quarterback, Maxwell Cummings, in their end zone, forcing a safety to extend the Comet’s lead to 8-0. 

On the next drive, Brown led the team down the field culminating in a 29-yard touchdown to senior wide receiver, Cobi Lewis, who made a clutch catch despite being blanketed by several Lincoln defenders.  The touchdown and point after pushed the Comets ahead 15-0. 

Bates closed out the half for the stingy Comets’ defense by recovering a fumble to secure a first half shut-out sending the home team to the locker room with all the momentum. 

Bates ended the night with seven solo tackles, and credited his performance to his teammates, saying that he felt that the team battled together, through every down. 

“It felt great coming again back at it with my boys,” Bates said. “We trusted each other and we did what we had to, we fought every play, [it was] a great game.”

Another highlight of the night was the celebration of 60 years of Mason Football. At halftime Comets’ football alumni spread  out on the field representing six decades of the school’s program. This included multiple members from the school’s first football team dating back to 1962.

In the third quarter, the Comet’s defense once again prevented the Golden Lions from scoring. But in the fourth quarter, the visitors from Columbus made things interesting. 

Lincoln narrowed the scoring gap to 15-7 with an 83 yard touchdown pass from Cummings to receiver Brendan Raymond early in the fourth quarter. 

Momentum continued to shift towards the Lions after the Comets fumbled a snap deep in their own territory and gave them the ball at the Comet’s 3 yard-line. Once again, the Comet’s defense maintained their intensity and successfully completed a goal-line stand, ending with a missed field goal. Mason closed out the game with a clock eating eight minute drive to seal the 15-7 victory.

The crowd buzzed with electricity, as Mason returned to their first football game opened to the student population since the 2019 season due to COVID-19 restrictions during last year’s 2020 season. Head coach Brian Castner attributed a big factor in the team’s performance to the ‘return to normalcy.’ He said that the experience was especially helpful for the team’s younger players who had never experienced the thrill of Friday Night Lights.

“It’s awesome [to win],” Castner said. “We’re a young team and we fought to the end. There are a lot of players out there playing for the first time under the lights. I’m so proud of them and excited for them. It was just a great night.”

Castner said the team is taking careful steps to strategize one game at a time, but plans to use Friday’s win to fuel the team into future games. 

“We are going to enjoy this game tonight and evaluate [our performance] tomorrow [in order] to get better in certain areas,” Castner said. “Hopefully, the players come in [with a] coachable [attitude]. Then, we move on to Centerville.”

The Comets will face the Centerville Elks at Mason next Friday, August 27. The Elks opened their season on Friday with an impressive 38-24 win over Fairfield.