October 27, 2013 1:37:32 AM
Chris Hamm doesn't remember a lot of Christian Football Association games when his Victory Christian Academy team hasn't scored.
Scoring is the name of the game in Eight-Man football, and Hamm's teams traditionally have been able to do it with the best of them.
On Friday, though, Hamm had to make sure his team didn't make too much of the fact that it trailed Tabernacle 6-0 at halftime of their CFA semifinal-round playoff game in Columbus.
"I told them it was only one score and that we were going to finally get something," Hamm said. "I told them I know what it feels like, but the reality of it is we are one play and a two-point conversion away from taking the lead. We have tried to emphasize win the next play all year long, and we stuck with that theme."
A sack by Cody Anthony in the third quarter got Victory Christian on the scoreboard and helped spark the team to a 27-18 victory. The win sets up a third meeting between Victory Christian (7-3) and Tuscaloosa Christian (6-4) for the CFA title. Tuscaloosa Christian defeated Victory Christian twice in the regular seed. It will play host to the CFA championship game at 7 p.m. Friday in Cottondale, Ala.
Hamm said Victory Christian received solid performances from seniors Hunter Austin, Austin Richardson, and Brandon Shaw to earn the chance to play for a title. Shaw hurt his knee last week in a 40-12 loss to Tuscaloosa Christian. Initially, it was feared he wouldn't be able to play the rest of the season, but Hamm said he received medical clearance late in the week to play. He came in in the third quarter to play on the offensive line and delivered another spark.
Austin paced the team with 16 tackles, while Richardson added 10.
"Hunter Austin really played a senior-type of game," Hamm said. "Richardson has been a special teams player for us and he has been playing defensive back. He had a monster game last night tackling and filling the corners and on special teams he made very good plays. Brandon came in in the second half and gutted it out. I felt like the final game on our home field couldn't have gone any better than it did."
The Eagles rallied on their second possession following the safety thanks to the help of Shaw, who pulled and made a trap block that helped spring Will Jones on a 49-yard touchdown run. Jones (14 carries, 104 yards) also added an 11-yard score. Cody Bolton led the Eagles with 168 yards on 13 carries. He scored on runs of 62 and 39 yards.
Both players picked up the slack for junior Anthony Sharp, who didn't play due to an injury. Hamm hopes Sharp will be back in the lineup next week.
"Every running play we attempted with exception of one got positive yards in the first half," Hamm said. "We weren't necessarily getting chunks of yardage, but we would end up with third-and-6 and third-and-8. They defended our pass really well and changed defenses to go to four-man front. They were doing a good job of holding our receivers up and batted down two balls that would have been completions on third down. We felt like the running game was still there. ... We felt like the running game going to be the key if we could stay out of penalty situations and not have to throw the ball."
1. McCowan's career night pushes MSU to Elite Eight COLLEGE SPORTS
3. MSU baseball takes SEC series opener from Tennessee COLLEGE SPORTS
4. Washington and Shelton continue to dominate LOCAL SPORTS
5. MSU beats Tennessee in Game 2 of series COLLEGE SPORTS