Orangeburg Prep’s defensive efforts in the first half of Friday’s game led Augusta Christian to change its tactics.
With the game tied at 12, the Lions opened the second half by going 90 yards in 16 plays, with quarterback Tyler Roberson finding the end zone on fourth-and-goal. They would score three more rushing touchdowns in the half and go on to a 39-26 win in the second round of the South Carolina Independent School Association Class AAA playoffs.
The Lions (12-0) advanced to the conference’s championship game, a goal they set at the beginning of the year.
“I’m happy for the seniors for them to reach that goal,” fourth-year head coach Keith Walton said. “They’ve been here twice and lost in this round, so that was huge.”
Augusta Christian will play Hammond next Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The Lions had just 94 yards rushing and three first downs in the first half Friday as the Indians gave them different looks on defense. Adjusting blocking schemes, the Lions came out with a smash-mouth attitude and finished with 341 total rushing yards, led by fullback Sean Sweetings’ 134 yards on 11 carries.
“We came back in at half and said we’re going to get back to the old grind and run it down their throat and had an eight-minute drive right off the bat,” Sweeting said.
Thomas Banks scored on the Lions’ second possession of the half to put them up 26-12, but as they had done all night, the Indians answered. A 54-yard scoring pass from Marion McCurry to Derek Andrews got them within a touchdown.
McCurry connected with Andrews eight times for 162 yards and three touchdowns, including two in 27 seconds at the end of the second quarter to erase the Lions’ 12-0 lead.
Despite McCurry’s numbers, Augusta Christian sacked him eight times.
Roberson rushed 16 times for 130 yards and three touchdowns and also found Nick Fortenberry for a 28-yard touchdown pass.
Sweeting broke free on a 34-yard touchdown with 1:49 to play, giving the Lions a 39-19 lead and all but sealing the win.