August 23, 2014 11:51:59 PM
Conditioning. Execution. Heart.
That's what Victory Christian football coach Chris Hamm said made the difference Friday night in his team's 35-20 victory against Hebron Christian in the eight-man season opener for both squads.
"We seemed to be in pretty good shape, had some cramping issues, but not nearly what we could have with the heat," Hamm said. "I felt like we executed well. Made some mistakes there in the second half: gave up a couple touchdowns, had a couple turnovers, but by and large we executed. And then I like the way they displayed heart tonight."
That heart was on display at the end of the first half. Leading 21-0 in the second quarter, Victory Christian's defense faced its first challenge of the game. Hebron Christian sustained possession by going to junior power back Lucas Foster on a drive that reached the 13-yard line. With third-and-3 with 32 seconds left in the half, Victory Christian sophomore Will Jones intercepted quarterback Channing Tapley and secured a three-possession lead going into halftime.
The defensive execution by made the difference in the heat. Offensive standouts Anthony Sharp (running back) and Reed Fulgham (quarterback) had interceptions.
"It feels like you get in the game more," Fulgham said of playing both ways. "It's harder for me to come off the field, waiting on defense and coming back in, so I like being in the same the whole time. I get more into it."
Explosive plays helped propel Victory Christian. Senior running backs Sharp and Cody Bolton rushed for 108 and 90 yards, respectively. Both found big holes and had the athleticism to evade tacklers and get to the outside. Both rushed for first downs on the first drive, which Sharp capped with a 1-yard run after he broke free for an 18-yard on the previous play, only to be cut down at the goal line.
Sharp, who finished with four touchdowns and more than 200 all-purpose yards, exploded again later in the quarter, breaking away from defenders with power and pace for a 37-yard touchdown dash to help Victory Christian take a 14-0 lead. Early in the second quarter, Fulgham found Bolton for a 45-yard strike to help extend the lead to 21-0.
Hebron Christian's offense found its legs in the second half. The visitors built drives with their three running backs: the gritty, determined runs of senior Collin Moore; the bruising, effective 5-yard gains from Foster; and the electrifying, speedy bursts to the outside from junior Landon Hill, who busted a 65-yard touchdown run on the first play in the third quarter.
But Victory Christian always seemed to have an answer, and executed to keep its lead.
When Tapley found senior wide receiver Andrew Myatt on a misdirection play for a 51-yard touchdown strike in the third quarter, Sharp capped a response with a 12-yard touchdown run.
Hebron Christian scored the only touchdown of the fourth quarter on drive that included three well-thrown strikes by Tapley to junior Payton Griffin, the last of which was a 5-yard touchdown pass on a frozen rope with 30 seconds remaining.
"I think the best thing was our defense holding them," said Sharp, who also played linebacker. "Eight-man football, you know what an offensive game it is, but I think if you get some stops, you win."