Grace Christian Academy rumbled in from Knoxville and turned in a complete performance at Chattanooga Christian School on Friday night. The Rams extended their winning streak to five games while securing the top spot in the Division II-AA East Region football standings.
For the Chargers, the 38-21 loss snapped a three-game winning streak.
Grace Christian (6-1, 4-0) knocked CCS (3-3, 2-1) on its heels early, jumping out to a 17-0 first-quarter lead. Kicker Chase McCullar drilled a school-record 41-yard field goal, and quarterback Cooper Riggs threw scoring strikes to Reese Kirkwood for 20 yards and Grant Warwick for 51.
"I saw what I've seen our team do all year, and that's play free," Rams coach Rusty Bradley said. "We challenge them to do that — to play with that freedom and passion."
Riggs commanded an air raid, throwing for 378 yards and five touchdowns to five receivers.
"We wanted to take advantage of some mismatches in man coverage," Bradley said. "Our receivers had to run good routes, which they did, and Cooper had to be accurate, which he was."
Riggs got support from a stout defense that had three takeaways and McCullar's golden boot. The deft kicker made six total kicks and handled punting duties, pinning CCS deep in its own territory repeatedly.
The Chargers kept themselves somewhat in the game with a 3-yard run from Jamichael Baxter in the second quarter to make it 17-7 with 9:41 to play in the half. CCS then recovered a fumble but was unable to convert it into points as missed opportunities continued to pile up despite success on the ground.
"We have to make plays," CCS coach Mark Mariakis said. "I have a feeling we'll be disappointed when we watch the film. We had chances to keep it close, but we gave up big plays and those turnovers early killed us."
Traveon Scott broke a 47-yard run early in the third quarter to give CCS life again after Riggs' touchdown toss to Jalen Greer made it 24-7 at halftime. Baxter and Scott combined for 195 of the team's 212 rushing yards.
Riggs then tossed two third-quarter touchdown passes, to Caleb Curico and Gage Maynard, to make the margin 38-14 and put the game away.
CCS quarterback Sam Hall took a 1-yard plunge for the game's final score with 3:31 left to play.
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