The Augusta Christian Lions did not play like champions in their 2013 home- and season-opener Friday night.
Facing Wilson Hall and head coach Bruce Lane, who was the Lions’ coach before current coach Keith Walton, the Lions looked shaky from the get-go as they began the defense of their South Carolina Independent School Association AAA state championship. The Barons scored first and were never really threatened as they beat the Lions 33-13.
The Lions were penalized eight times for 66 yards and had issues with the quarterback-center exchange, fumbling five times, though they recovered each.
The Lions came in with senior running back Thomas Banks sidelined with a hamstring injury, but it was defensively that the Lions took the most lumps.
The Barons took the opening kickoff and marched down the field until the Lions stiffened. Facing a fourth-and-13 from the Lions’ 30, quarterback William Kinney found Devin Singleton wide-open across the middle at the 15 and he raced in untouched for the score.
Walton thought that was a tone-setter for the game.
“We were like deer in the headlights after that possession,” Walton said.
On their ensuing possession, the Lions made it to the Barons’ 16. On fourth down, Tyquan Burns was thrown back to the Barons’ 18, however, and the Barons took over on downs.
With Banks out, four backs got the call along with sophomore quarterback Hunter Beyersdoerfer and wide receiver Nick Fortenberry.
Bryson Ashmore led the Lions with 146 yards on nine carries, including an 82-yarder early in the fourth quarter that cut the Barons’ lead to 26-13.
“The first half I was shaky, I’ve never started offense before,” said Ashmore. “The second half I got the butterflies out and did work. I can’t wait for Thomas to get back so I can just stay on defense.”
The Barons chewed up yardage and clock with its ground game, gaining 258 yards with Jay Goodson leading the way with 100 yards on 16 carries. Kinney ran for three touchdowns and threw for another.
After failing to score in the first half, Beyersdoerfer hit Fortenberry for a 42-yard score on the Lions first possession of the second half to cut the deficit to 20-7.
The Lions missed a golden opportunity to keep the momentum as they sacked Kinney on third-and-19 from midfield, but were called for a facemask penalty on the play. Kinney then scrambled for 25 yards on the following play and Goodson followed it with a 20-yard scamper for a score.
Ashmore picked up a fumbled snap on the Lions next possession and broke free for an 82-yard score as the Lions cut the Barons’ lead to 26-13 early in the fourth quarter.
The Barons put an exclamation mark on the game using a 12-play, 60-yard drive, taking 6:22 off the clock. Kinney scored his third touchdown of the night on fourth down from the Lions’ 15, juking Lions’ defenders and breaking tackles along the way.
“We have to block and tackle better, it’s the ABC’s of football,” said Walton.
In other county season-openers, Evans beat Richmond Academy 26-7; Harlem toppled Georgia Military Academy 28-7; Lakeside fell to Statesboro 25-15 while Grovetown was handed a 56-7 defeat by Washington County.