With a suffocating defense, opportunistic special teams and stellar offense, the Augusta Christian Lions roared into the second round of the South Carolina Independent School Class AAA football playoffs.
Entering as the No. 1 seed, the team jumped out to a 20-0 first-quarter lead over Cardinal Newman on Friday night and built it to 37-0 by the break. With the starters on the bench for the second half, the Lions went on to a 51-6 win.
The Lions (11-0) got two turnovers on special teams and two interceptions that led to 17 points.
“The more series on offense you get it’s almost like a noose,” said Lions head coach Keith Walton. “And it gets tighter the more opportunities we get when the defense can give it to us on the short field and special teams can get it to us on the short field.”
After quarterback Tyler Roberson’s 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Lions a 13-0 lead, the Lions blooped the kickoff down the right sideline. Sophomore Dominique Miles recovered it at the Cardinals’ 19 yard line, leading to Roberson’s 17-yard touchdown run and a 20-0 lead two plays later.
“I was ready. I’ve been trying all year to get one,” Miles said.
Miles added a fumble recovery on a kickoff and a 54-yard kickoff return in the second half.
The defense got the ball to the offense quickly, allowing just one first down on a penalty and five total yards of offense in the first half. The Cardinals finished with 80 yards of offense, while the Lions had 300 yards.
With less than 20 seconds left in the first half, senior Matt Herzwurm picked off a pass and returned it to the Cardinals’ 21-yard line. That led to freshman Heath Brace’s 38-yard field goal as time expired.
Roberson finished 8-of-12 for 152 yards with a 40-yard touchdown pass to running back Thomas Banks and an interception.
Roberson rushed eight times for 64 yards and four touchdowns while Banks led all rushers with 152 yards on seven carries.
In the third quarter, the Lions increased their lead to 44-0 when junior defensive back Bryson Ashmore stepped in front of a pass and took it back 43 yards for a touchdown.
Leading 44-6, Dae-vonte Shanks finished off the night taking a handoff and going down the sideline for a 47-yard touchdown on the game’s next-to-last play.
In the second round, the Lions (11-0) will play host to Orangeburg Prep, who the team defeated 42-20 on the road Oct. 26.
• The Augusta Prep Cavaliers (5-4) saw the season come to an end Saturday with a 28-14 loss to East Atlanta in the Glory For Christ semifinals. The Cavaliers had beaten East Atlanta 22-15 on Oct. 15.
• In the next-to-last regular season game, the Lakeside Panthers (5-4, 4-2 Region 2-AAAAA) sewed up a spot in the state AAAAA playoffs with a 21-14 win over Evans (3-6, 1-5) Friday night.
• At Greenbrier, Grovetown (3-6, 3-3) took down the Wolfpack (1-8, 0-6) by a 42-26 final score.