In a game that quarterback Tyler Roberson would call surreal afterward, the Lions won their first state championship since 2005, beating six-time defending champion Hammond 21-14 in the South Carolina Independent School Class AAA state championship.
“It’s an indescribable feeling,” said Lions coach Keith Walton, whose squad went 13-0. “I’m so thankful for the senior class and the selflessness of the entire team.”
The win was the second of the year for Augusta Christian over Hammond, who suffered its only losses of the year to the Lions and finished 12-2.
With the offense rightfully garnering a lion’s share of the attention during the year, it was the Lions’ defense that came up big time and again.
The defense recovered five fumbles, four coming inside their own 20-yard line, and the offense capitalized, turning them into 14 points.
They also stopped the Skyhawks on downs at the 2-yard line, nursing a 14-7 lead.
Two plays later, Thomas Banks turned it into a 21-7 advantage as he juked and went down the right sideline for a 98-yard touchdown with 6:49 to play.
“I saw all 11 in the box and set them up. I faked inside and went outside,” Banks said. “This is the greatest feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”
The Skyhawks scored with 3:57 to play to cut the lead to 21-14, then recovered the ensuing kickoff at the Lions’ 32.
With 2:21 to play they got to the Lions seven before losing its fifth fumble of the game.
On the ensuing drive facing third-and-10, Roberson hit Nick Fortenberry for an
11-yard gain and first down, enabling the Lions to run out the clock.
“We knew what we could do,” senior Matt Herzwurm said. “We knew we could only beat ourselves.”