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DALTON, Ga. — If Jay Poag learned nothing else about his Christian Heritage School football team this past week, it's that when he speaks, his players will respond. It might not be right away, but the Lions eventually will get it done.

They put a tough loss against Darlington behind them by scoring 31 unanswered points in the second half Friday night in a 52-6 homecoming win over Region 6-A rival Trion. Two of the Lions' touchdowns were defensive (a third one was called back), something that pleased the veteran coach to no end.

"I've been fussing for about five weeks that we haven't had any defensive scores, so I guess they heard me say it enough," Poag laughed. "It just all came together tonight."

Christian Heritage (5-1, 2-1) big-played the Bulldogs (5-2, 2-2) on both sides of the ball.

Sophomore quarterback Christian Thomas ran for two touchdowns and added one through the air. His 16-yard run got the Lions going after a scoreless first quarter and was quickly followed by a Gage Leonard blocked punt that Ethan Smith recovered in the end zone for a 14-0 lead.

Moments later, after a Trion fumble, Thomas connected with Evan Lester for a 43-yard touchdown strike.

Trion momentarily stopped the bleeding with a time-consuming 76-yard drive that ended the first half and resulted in a Rob Brown 4-yard touchdown run to cut the halftime lead to 21-6.

From there, though, it was all Christian Heritage. A 45-yard pass play from Thomas to a leaping Lester at the 1 led to the scoring sneak by Thomas. A Rob Brumlow interception (he added a fumble recovery later) led to Gage Leonard's 3-yard scoring run on the next Trion drive, and the rout was on.

"We saw on film that we could spread them out and they wouldn't be able to handle our speed," said Thomas, who led the Lions with 69 rushing yards and passed for 116. "Once I got outside, I had a back blocking for me and I just had to beat a linebacker. And, passing the ball, even with double teams I know I can throw it up and my guys are going to make a play."

Thomas was tough on himself after the Darlington loss, when his interception ended what could have been a game-winning drive late. Friday's big game was the redemption he needed.

"Sometimes a loss is the best thing that can happen to you," he said. "I felt like, for me, it was great to get going tonight. We could have won on our last drive, but I ended up throwing an interception and we lost. We worked so hard this summer, and we know this is our year. It's on to the next one. This is the kind of game we expect now."

Said Poag: "This is a great bounce-back win from last week," he said. "That game was tough, but we left that field knowing we can play with anybody in the state. We should have won that game. It hurt, but at the same time on the ride home you could tell they were confident in what they could do."

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6296. Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.

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