By Dave Gordon
Christian Heritage School’s football team led at the end of each of the first three quarters in Friday night’s Sub-region 6A-A showdown with Darlington at Lions Stadium.
Darlington led when it mattered most, though, putting together a stunning fourth-quarter rally to win 18-14 — and now the Blue Devils are all alone in their lead of the sub-region standings.
Darlington’s Trey Edge took a pitch from quarterback Logan Rice and crossed the goal line with the go-ahead score with 38 seconds remaining, capping a 1:43 drive that started at the Blue Devils’ 39-yard line.
The Tigers (5-1, 2-0) scored 15 unanswered points in the second half, led by the legs of Edge, a junior running back. On the team’s final drive, with the clock winding to just over a minute left in the fourth, Rice hit senior wide receiver Jeremiah McClure with a 33-yard pass up the right sideline to the Lions’ 15, which set up Edge’s touchdown run.
Darlington coach Tommy Atha knew this one would be difficult and gave credit to a strong Lions defense.
“Those kids played their tails off on defense,” Atha said. “They had us reeling. It’s a huge win for us because that’s a great football team that we were able to come in here, come from behind and beat.”
The Lions (5-2, 2-1) were able to hold off the Tigers for the better part of three quarters. However, two stalled drives late in the fourth — while holding on to a 14-11 lead — proved too much to overcome.
Lions coach Preston Poag spoke of the difficulty in losing a critical region game that seemed within reach.
“It’s a tough one, because we outplayed them,” Poag said. “It was a dogfight. The ball doesn’t bounce your way sometimes, and we have to learn from it. That’s the game of football. The kids fought hard and we didn’t back down.”
The Tigers’ running game was also relentless, pounding out yards in the second half and wearing down Christian Heritage’s defense. Edge finished with 84 yards on 16 carries, while teammate Chas Williams put up 82 yards on 15 carries, also scoring once.
Christian Heritage senior fullback Austin Lowe carried in the first score of the game, a 1-yard plunge with 2:36 to go in the first quarter, and the PAT made it 7-0, Christian Heritage.
After a field goal by Tigers senior Sloan Peters, Lions quarterback Trevor Brown answered with a 2-yard touchdown run, putting the home team up 14-3 with 1:13 to go in the half.
After the Lions went three-and-out on the opening drive of the third quarter, Darlington drove 64 yards on 10 plays, ending with a Williams 2-yard touchdown run. The Tigers made it 14-11 after Rice passed to Robert Muschamp for the two-point conversion.
The Lions offense stalled the rest of the way, ending one drive in the fourth on a missed field goal and turning the ball over on a Brown fumble on another possession.
Poag knows there will be opportunities for his team to bounce back.
“You got to go through games like this sometimes,” Poag said. “You’ve got to fight and you want your team to hurt. But you lose from your mistakes and you lose as a team.
“It’s a good sign for this program. We haven’t been in this long and we’re already competing with some of the better teams in the region, so that’s a good sign.”