NORFOLK - The battle for the Maroon Cup always has the cities of Norfolk and Columbus on edge and for the second straight season, the Panthers reclaim the bragging rights after a 28-14 victory over the Discoverers.

Columbus came into the matchup 1-0 after a decisive 31-7 victory over Fremont in Week 0, while Norfolk would take the field for the first time in 2023.

Both offenses from Norfolk and Columbus exchanged three-and-outs on the sweltering evening, before the Panthers were the first to find signs of life.

Led by senior quarterback CJ Hoffman, Norfolk drove down the field midway through the first quarter and finished the drive with a four yard touchdown burst from Rowdy Bauer, his first of the day.

Columbus answered back almost immediately, set up by a nice catch and run from Dylan Crumley and a one yard Michael Voichoskie touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.

Norfolk continued its offensive momentum heading into the second quarter as CJ Hoffman threw his first touchdown pass of the season from 19 yards out to a back-pedaling Rowdy Bauer to take a 14-7 lead.

Columbus was forced to punt on the ensuing drive and Kale Forney booted a beautiful 77-yarder that set up Norfolk inside the four yard-line with two minutes left in the half.

Rowdy Bauer jolted through the Discoverer defense and spun his way out of another tackler on a stunning 96-yard touchdown run.

Norfolk took its 21-7 lead into halftime, but Columbus came out swinging in the third quarter.

Columbus senior Tanner Esch took a reverse handoff and turned it into a 55-yard touchdown run to bring the Discoverers back within a score.

After a few possession swaps, Columbus found themselves inside the 5-yard line with a chance to tie the game in the 4th quarter.

That's when the Norfolk defense stiffened and Hudson Waldow blew up a 3rd and 5 to create a 4th and 10. The stop led to the Discoverers to bring on Connor Kallweit for a short field goal attempt, which he pushed to the left.

The Panthers kept the ball on the ground and Rowdy Bauer took his 8th handoff of the night and broke through the defense for a 25-yard touchdown, capping off a four touchdown performance en route to a 28-14 Norfolk victory.

Bauer finished the night with 141 rushing yards on only nine carries, along with five catches for 45 yards and four total scores. Hudson Waldow was a great complement to Bauer, rushing for 74 yards on the night. Quarterback CJ Hoffman also ran for 109 yards for Norfolk.

Columbus was led by Tanner Esch with 116 yards and a touchdown.

Norfolk moves to 1-0 after the rivalry victory and heads down to Omaha for a battle with Bellevue East, while Columbus falls to 1-1 and will drive down to the capital city for a contest with Lincoln Southwest.