With his team down by a field goal late in the third quarter, Augusta Christian head coach Keith Walton saw a nightmare scenario play out right in front of him during Friday night's 52-41 loss to Porter Gaud.
Facing a team The (Columbia) State ranks No. 3 in the South Carolina High School Association's AAA classification, the Lions lost both of their starting cornerbacks to leg cramps.
"The depth just got us," Walton said Monday. "With so many kids going both ways, we had some guys cramp up. It started to get out of hand when both our starting cornerbacks went out."
The Lions (0-1) feature a handful of players who play both offense and defense, meaning they rarely get a chance to rest during a game. One such player is senior Matt Rogers, a standout wide receiver who, along with fellow cornerback Joshua Dennis, could not continue into the fourth quarter.
At that point, the Cyclones (1-0) started throwing the ball at will against less-experienced defensive backs, scoring 24 unanswered points. Quarterback Hudson Worthy finished the night with 277 passing yards.
Augusta Christian got the scoring started midway through the first quarter on a Christian Croft 3-yard touchdown run.
In the second quarter, the Lions took the lead back when Croft scored his second touchdown on a 6-yard run.
After Weston Stitt's 2-yard touchdown run put the Cyclones ahead by 10 in the third quarter, Lions quarterback Tyler Roberson scored on a run from 22 yards out to get his team within three points.
That's when the wheels fell off for Augusta Christian.
Charlie Baker got open for a 59-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter when a Lions defender cramped up mid-play on man-to-man coverage.
Once Augusta Christian got down by double digits, Walton said, the offense had to focus on the passing game to get back into the matchup, rather than concentrating on what had been a successful running game up to that point.
"When they went up, we were forced to have to pass the ball (on every down)," he said. "At that point, their defense knows you're in pass mode."
Porter Gaud scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Sean Sweeting led the way for Augusta Christian with 62 rushing yards on nine attempts.
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