After winning the South Carolina Independent School Association Class AAA championship in 2012, the Augusta Christian Lions find themselves in waters they haven’t had to tread for a few years.
Following their 49-26 loss to the Hammond Skyhawks Friday night, the Lions (2-6, 2-5) find themselves in a battle for a playoff spot with two games left in the regular season, but can clinch a spot with a win at Heathwood Hall on Friday.
In a rematch of last year’s championship game, which Augusta Christian won 21-14, Hammond jumped all over the Lions early and never looked back.
The Skyhawks rushed for 304 yards and five touchdowns, mostly in the first half, as they built a 42-6 advantage. T.J. Brady did the majority of the damage as he rushed 14 times for 145 yards and three touchdowns in the half.
The Skyhawks also picked off Matthew Peavler twice in the first quarter which led to scores, including a leaping, one-handed grab by Doak Fisher who returned it 39 yards for a touchdown.
“Next week is huge,” Lions’ head coach Keith Walton, who said the Lions have been fighting the injury bug all season and that Friday night was no exception. “It’s motivation for them because they feel so beaten up and that’s a little different than where we’ve been in the past.”
Senior running back Thomas Banks was bottled up early, but started coming on midway through the second quarter, finishing the game with 19 carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a six-yard pass from Peavler for the Lions’ first score. While they scored three second-half touchdowns, Banks knows the Lions have to do better much sooner.
“We have to come out going hard throughout the whole game, not when we’re down and try to fight back” said Banks, who missed games earlier in the year with a hamstring injury. “It’s good to have that fight-back spirit, but you have to have it coming out too because we have so much potential.”
In the biggest game of the night, the Augusta Prep Cavaliers (7-1, 4-0) clinched first place in the Glory For Christ Eastern Division with a 35-25 win over the previously unbeaten Anderson Cavaliers (7-1, 6-1) on the road.
“I’m really happy for for our seniors, they deserved the win with all the hard work they’ve put in,” said Augusta Prep head coach Harry Bacheller. “Nate (Pylant) made some key first downs and Kevin Huggins got a key first down late to seal it.”
Augusta Prep finishes its season on the road at the Augusta Eagles on Friday then heads right into the GFC playoffs the following week.
The Augusta Eagles (1-6, 1-5 GFC) traveled to face the Georgia Force, losing 44-0.
In Georgia High School Association Region 3-AA play, the Harlem High School Bulldogs (6-2, 2-2 region) kept their hopes for a postseason berth alive with a 7-6 win over Josey (0-7, 0-3).
In GHSA Region 2-AAAAA action, the Lakeside Panthers (5-2, 3-1 region) strengthened their position with a 56-0 blanking of Greenbrier (0-7, 0-4), setting up what could be a key region matchup in two weeks against Evans (4-3, 2-2), who were 37-17 winners over Grovetown (1-6, 0-4).