Two weeks prior to Friday night’s state semifinal matchup, in the regular season finale, Augusta Christian came within a point of upsetting powerhouse Hammond.
This time around, the Skyhawks ensured that the Lions wouldn’t have a chance down the stretch.
Going for its sixth state title in a row, Hammond followed Augusta Christian’s opening score with 49 consecutive points in a 49-20 victory to advance to the South Carolina Independent School Association championship game.
“Our kids stayed composed against a good team,” Skyhawks coach Erik Kimrey said.
On the first play of the third quarter, with Hammond (11-1) leading 28-7, a botched exchange by Augusta Christian (8-4) on a handoff led to a turnover at the Lions’ 8-yard line.
On the next play, B.J. Bennett took a handoff and rumbled into the end zone for his fifth touchdown. Bennett had scoring runs of 4, 2, 14, 8, and 3 yards to complement a 13-yard touchdown catch, gaining 174 yards on the ground and 51 through the air.
Augusta Christian was led by Grant Newman, who caught two passes, both for touchdowns, totaling 99 yards.
Running back Thomas Banks rushed 18 times for 88 yards.
“We ran into a buzzsaw,” Augusta Christian coach Keith Walton said. “We started the game off well, and then on our second possession we had some key penalties and never recovered from those.”
A short punt on Hammond’s first possession gave Augusta Christian favorable field position. The Lions moved 38 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead.
The drive’s key play came on a draw play to Banks that gained 13 yards on third-and-10. Tyler Roberson capped the drive with a 2-yard scoring run.
Lakeside blows lead in defeat
Lakeside held the lead for most of Saturday ’s first round state playoff game at Warner Robins.
But a gutsy fourth-down call by Demons head coach Bryan Way helped turn the tables midway through the fourth quarter.
Michael Lee scored the go-ahead touchdown with 5:25 remaining, and Brian Sutton sealed the game with his fourth scoring run four minutes later, as Warner Robins topped Lakeside 42-31 in the Georgia state playoffs.
Warner Robins (9-2) won in the playoffs for the first time in five years against a Lakeside (6-5) team that last made the second round in 2009.
Trailing 31-28, the Demons faced a fourth-and-8 situation from the Lakeside 28-yard line with 6:25 left in the fourth quarter.
After a timeout, Way passed on a potential game-tying field goal. Instead, quarterback Ty Odom lofted a deep ball to receiver Akeem Taylor, who made the catch before falling to the turf at the 1. Lee plunged into the end zone two plays later.
The Panthers mounted a drive in response. On fourth-and-eight from the Demons’ 27, quarterback Mark Weidenaar was intercepted by Mario Guyton near the goal-line.
After Warner Robins opened the scoring on its first play from scrimmage, Lakeside responded by scoring 14 points in a row to take the lead.
Warner Robins came back to tie the game, but Lakeside scored 10 points off Warner Robins turnovers in the closing seconds of the first half.
Eric Preheim kicked a 22-yard field goal three plays after a muffed punt inside the Demons’ 10-yard line. Seconds later, the Demons gave the ball right back when Odom was sacked and fumbled near the Warner Robins 30.
On the final play of the first half, Weidenaar completed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Eamon Diehl, and the Panthers went into halftime with 24-14 lead.
The Panthers also turned an Odom interception into points when Jonathan Edwards made a spectacular catch and run for a 45-yard scoring play that gave Lakeside a 31-21 lead.
Weidenaar completed nine of 22 passes for 172 yards. Edwards was the game’s leading receiver with five catches for 75 yards.
Johnathan Long was held to 66 yards on 20 carries, well below his season average.