The first meeting betweeen Augusta Christian and Augusta Preparatory Day School had its share of memorable moments Friday night.
Augusta Prep scored on an interception return, a fake punt and a fumble return. It was the relentless grinding of Augusta Christian’s rushing attack and their swarming defense, however, that gave them the early series lead with the 42-20 win.
Going with a running back by committee approach, the Lions rushed 42 times for 380 yards and five touchdowns. E’Mon Reeves led all rushers with 202 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries while John Freeman had 12 carries for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
“There’s always competition between all the backs,” said Reeves, noting that it makes them all better. “Every touch we get we try to do what we can with it.”
Deontre Watson and Calvin Taylor stuffed a fourth-and-one attempt at the Lions’ 46 on Augusta Prep’s first series of the game, setting a defensive tone for the game.
By the end, the Cavaliers mustered just four first downs and fumbled six times, losing five.
Following the stop, it took six plays for the Lions to score when quarterback Matthew Peavler hit Bryce Ford on a outside screen and he went in from 28 yards out.
The Lions would force punts on the Cavaliers’ next three possessions, but trailed 8-7 at halftime after Cavaliers’ defensive back Joseph Shaver picked off a pass and returned it 46 yards for a score with 5:28 left in the second quarter.
“They did some good things too to catch us sleeping a little bit,” said Lions’ head coach Keith Walton. “We made adjustments at halftime. That group of linemen have worked together for a day. It’ll come along. Moving (Zach) Giella from tackle to center was a good move, too.”
Opening the third quarter, Freeman ripped off gains of 16, 16, 15 and scored on a 14-yarder to give the Lions the 15-8 lead they would not relinquish.
After the Cavaliers turned the ball over on downs on their next possession, Reeves rumbled 44 yards for a score as the Lions stretched the lead to 22-8.
“Their defense was kind of challenging to read but going into the second half I kind of figured it out and made the adjustments and then came the yards,” Reeves said.
Jimmy St. Louis hit Shaver for a 54-yard touchdown off a fake punt with 3:16 left in the third quarter and the Cavaliers trailed 28-14. Building momentum, the Cavaliers recovered a fumble at the Lions’ 38 just before the end of the quarter. After gaining a first down, they fumbled the ball right back to the Lions and any hope of a turnaround was gone when the Lions used five plays to score.
“We were trying to pull out a miracle but then it got away from us,” said Cavaliers head coach Harry Bacheller. “We were extremely worn down, they wore us down.”
Alan Worsham and Davis Addyman rushed for the Lions final touchdowns before the Cavaliers’ Brendan Alee returned a fumble 65 yards for a touchdown to close out the scoring.
“We can try to fix the fumbles and all the other mistakes, and a lot of them are due to youth and trying to get better each week and that’s all a coach can ask,” Bacheller said. “I’m extremely proud of them. That was a big, talented, experienced team we played and we move on from here.”