As they have all season, the Augusta Christian Lions unleashed their potent, high-powered attack Thursday night.
The Fox Creek Predators were the ones who fell prey this time, losing 38-20.
The Lions improved to 4-0 and were impressive all around. They amassed 341 yards of offense in the first half – 414 for the game – as they built a 35-7 lead. The defense came away with four turnovers and freshman Heath Brace nailed a 40-yard field goal.
The Lions entered the game with no turnovers for the season but while they dropped three Thursday, it didn’t hurt them.
The rivalry game dubbed “The Battle for the Paddle,” with the winning team retaining a ceremonial paddle until the next meeting. The Lions had won the four previous encounters and keeping hold of it meant something.
“We get to hold the paddle and have bragging rights,” said Lions quarterback Tyler Roberson.
Roberson ran the Lions’ option to perfection and the offense set the tone for the game on its opening drive.
The Lions went 78 yards in 10 plays using almost five minutes of the clock. Running back Thomas Banks carried the ball three times, running back Sean Sweeting had two carries and Roberson toted it three times, the last good for a 37-yard touchdown after faking a handoff to Banks.
Banks and Sweeting seemed more comfortable running over defenders while Roberson chose to be more elusive. Banks finished with 121 yards on 13 carries while Sweeting gained 55 yards on eight carries.
“We like to matriculate the ball down the field,” said Lions head coach Keith Walton. “When we have long, drawn out drives they feed off it.”
On their second possession, the Lions went 94 yards in 12 plays, with David Hall falling on the ball in the end zone after Roberson fumbled on the 1-yard line.
The Lions also showed their quick strike capability.
Leading 14-7 with 4:55 left in the second quarter, Roberson was flushed out of the pocket, scrambled and found receiver Nick Fortenberry for a 65-yard touchdown. It was Fortenberry’s third touchdown of the season, all of which have been 50 yards or longer.
“Whenever a play breaks down, I know I can find Nick Fortenberry,” said Roberson.
Roberson finished with 95 yards rushing and two touchdowns, passing for 142 yards and a score.
The Predators’ (1-3) running game was effective, gaining 287 yards, but turnovers and penalties slowed them at inopportune times. They finished with four fumbles, losing two, and quarterback Deondre Baskett was intercepted twice.
The Predators put together a 10-play drive of their own. Baskett topped it off with a 16-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and three play, cutting the Lions lead to 38-13 with 3:28 to go in the third quarter.