Wanting to set a tone for the game early, the Augusta Prep Cavaliers did just that Friday night.
They scored early and often in the first quarter against the Skipstone Academy Warriors, jumping out to a 23-0 lead, going on to the 43-18 win.
“We were trying to send a statement,” said Cavaliers head coach Harry Bachelller. “We wanted to get the running game going again and experiment with some stuff and experiment with some players.”
The Cavaliers improved to 6-1, 3-0 in the Glory for Christ East Division, setting up a first-place division showdown on the road with Anderson (7-0, 3-0).
With the Warriors bottling up fullback Nolan Brandon early on, the Cavaliers turned to Kevin Huggins running off-tackle and around the ends. He ripped off huge gains including touchdown runs of 36 and 53 yards as the Cavaliers built their 23-0 first-quarter lead.
“Basically if we’re running up the middle and get stuffed we’ll pull it to the outside, but really we can’t do anything without the line,” said Huggins. “They’re blocking and they’re all over it and that’s what opens it up for us.”
Huggins rushed for 148 yards in the first half and would finish with 147 yards on 13 carries for the game.
Bacheller said the Cavaliers run two different offenses – the veer and the Delaware – that teams have to prepare for.
“The goal is you’ve got to stop one or the other and we picked the right one and that’s what happened to us early,” said Bacheller. “We went with what they gave us.”
Brandon got loose late for a 39-yard score and he finished with 95 yards on 14 carries as the Cavaliers rushed for 276 yards. Will Hagler finished the Cavaliers’ scoring with a 16-yard touchdown on his only carry of the night.
Conversely, the Cavaliers didn’t let the Warriors get untracked as they stuffed the run to the tune of minus-11 yards. The Cavaliers recovered a fumble and Austin Knox picked off two passes.
The Warriors did connect for two touchdowns through the air, including a late 64-yarder with 10 seconds left in the game.
The Cavaliers first touchdown was set up through the air as Nate Pylant connected with Michael Downing for a juggling 24-yard grab down to the 1. Brandon powered into the end zone for the score and a 7-0 lead with 7:48 to go in the first quarter.
“It made me kind of mad cause if I had caught it (cleanly), I probably would have scored, but it was nice to have a catch, I haven’t had one in a couple of games,” said Downing.
Downing got snaps in as quarterback as well and was perfect in three attempts for 37 yards including a 14-yarder to Pylant.
After Huggins’ 36-yard touchdown run, he sacked Warriors quarterback Bryant Ard in the end zone for a safety. The ensuing possession Huggins took Pylant’s pitch, swept around left end untouched for a 53-yard score and the 23-0 lead.
On Thursday, Augusta Christian traveled to Porter Gaud where they were handed a 38-21 loss, dropping to 2-5, 2-4 SCISA Region 1-AAA.
Friday night saw the Lakeside Panthers (4-2, 2-1 Region 2-AAAAA) come back from a 20-7 fourth-quarter deficit to beat Houston County 21-20. Steven Houzah rushed for a 63-yard touchdown to bring the Panthers to 20-14 and then Jalen Harrison scored on a 14-yard run as the Panthers forged ahead.
The Augusta Eagles (1-6, 1-4 GFC) lost to East Atlanta, 64-0. Harlem improved to 5-2, 1-2 Region 3-AA, holding on to beat East Laurens 28-26.
Other county Region 2-AAAAA teams didn’t fare so well as Evans (3-3, 1-2) was toppled 27-15 by Jones County, Grovetown (1-5, 0-3) lost 52-12 to Northside and Greenbrier (0-6, 0-3) fell 48-7 to Warner Robins.