The Augusta Christian School football team had a three-word response to the team known by a three-letter acronym.
Not this time, FPD.
First Presbyterian Day had won all three previous meetings with AC, and the Vikings pillaged the Lions in a pair of victories last season.
That trend ended Friday night at Pride Valley.
Augusta Christian erased a 6-0 deficit and rolled to a 20-13 win, and the outcome turned on three simple words.
Focus, poise and discipline became AC's answer to the FPD curse.
"I really saw our team grow up. We didn't quit," Augusta Christian senior Cole Rabun said. "At the end of the game we were dominating the line of scrimmage. We had them crying for mercy."
Rabun was held in check during the first half, but the tailback exploded for 150 yards and three touchdowns after halftime. The top rusher in Class AAA padded his stats with 189 yards on the ground.
"In the first half we didn't perform as well as we're capable of performing," AC coach Bruce Lane said. "To our kid's credit, they came back in the second half, answered the bell and made some good things happen in all phases of the game."
When the AC offense was bogging down with penalties and turnovers, the Lions buckled down with defense, limiting the Vikings to just two first downs in the first half.
For the game, FPD gained only 57 yards of rushing, and although the Vikings passed for 136, most of that yardage came on two big throws.
The rest of the time, AC's defense was brutal. Dwight Banks, Marcus Paschal, Sam Pitts, Danny Dickinson, Drew Snelling, Chad Cooper, William Lyon and Daniel Whignther all recorded tackles for losses. Pitts and Paschal harassed FPD for most of the game, and the overall effort was nothing new.
"I didn't realize how well our defense has played, but I was looking at the stats and we just haven't given up a lot of yardage or big plays," Lane said.
FPD took a 3-0 lead into the half, and when the Vikings tacked on a third-quarter field goal to go up 6-0, it looked like the Lions would again come up short against their nemesis from Macon.
But AC didn't get rattled. The Lions stuck to their game plan, which featured countless sweeps by Rabun. The offensive line eventually wore down the FPD defense, and Rabun raced for big yardage.
"We decided to step up, accept the challenge, and pound these boys," Rabun said. "And that's what we did. We're like a big snowball. Once we get going, we're hard to stop."
Augusta Christian is rolling right now. The Lions improved to 5-1, and along they way, AC has recorded some landmark wins.
Earlier this season, AC won a football game in Macon for the first time, and last week the Lions finally broke the drought against FPD.
"We're still trying to overcome that Macon phobia, and we took a good step toward that tonight," Lane said.
Rabun and the Lions now have another first in mind - capturing the school's initial Georgia Independent Schools Association football championship.
"This is a special team. We have a lot of things going for us," Rabun said. "If we play like we're capable of playing, there isn't a team in the state that can beat us, except for ourselves."
Augusta Christian is idle this week. The Lions will be back in action Oct. 10 at Pride Valley in their homecoming game against Southland Academy.
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