Augusta Christian’s defense of its South Carolina Independent School Association AAA state championship got off to a rocky start Friday night.
Big plays and penalties derailed the Lions at every turn as Wilson Hall gave former Lions head coach Bruce Lane a 33-13 win in his return to the school.
“I was proud of our kids tonight,” said Lane, calling Augusta Christian a special place for him as his family. “Penalty yards hurt their drives and kept drives alive for us.”
The Lions entered the game a man down, with senior running back Thomas Banks sidelined with a hamstring injury, but it was on defense where the Lions took the most lumps.
The Barons took the opening kickoff and marched down the field until the Lions stiffened. Facing a fourth-and-13 from the Lions’ 30, quarterback William Kinney found Devin Singleton wide open across the middle at the 15 and he raced in untouched for the score.
Lions head coach Keith Walton thought that was a tone-setter.
“We were like deer in the headlights after that possession,” Walton said.
The Barons chewed up clock with its ground game, gaining 258 yards with Jay Goodson leading the way with 100 yards on 16 carries.
Augusta Christian got the ensuing possession and, while fumbling twice, made it to the Barons’ 16. Tyquan Burns was stuffed on fourth down at the Barons’ 18, however, and the Barons took over on downs.
The Lions had issues with the snap from center, fumbling five times but recovering each one. They were also penalized eight times for 66 yards.
After failing to score in the first half, sophomore quarterback Hunter Beyersdoerfer hit Nick Fortenberry for a 42-yard score and Bryson Ashmore picked up a fumbled snap and broke free for an 82-yard score early in the fourth quarter as the Lions cut the Barons’ lead to 26-13.
The Barons put an exclamation mark on the game using a 12-play, 60-yard drive to leave Augusta Christian just 54 seconds left on the clock.
Kinney scored his third touchdown of the night on fourth down from the Lions 15, juking Lions’ defenders and breaking tackles along the way.
“We have to block and tackle better, it’s the ABC’s of football,” said Walton.