Things haven't come easy for Silverdale Baptist Academy's football team lately, but a 31-14 home win over nonregion rival Grace Baptist Academy on Friday night put the Seahawks back on the right side of .500.
It wasn't always pretty for a shorthanded squad missing 12 players — including eight starters or key role players — but regulars including Turner Junkins and Connor Delashmitt helped keep the ship steady.
"We've got guys in there that wouldn't have dreamed of playing a few weeks ago," Silverdale coach Mike Connor said. "The team showed care and strength of heart, and that's why we got the result that we did. These uncertain moments are forcing them to grow in ways they wouldn't have had to otherwise."
Silverdale (4-3) forced a fumble on the opening series, and Junkins found Noah Bowen one play later for a 23-yard touchdown pass less than two minutes into the game. Reid Jewell tacked on a 30-yard field goal early in the second period to make it 10-0 after a couple of penalties against Grace (0-7) extended the drive.
The Golden Eagles fought back to tighten things up, picking off a pass and getting into the end zone with their offense. Cole Mason took a short pass from Cooper Knecht and bolted past the defense for a 76-yard score.
Mason replicated the effort for a 17-yard touchdown in the second half after a plethora of broken tackles and exemplified what coach Bob Ateca saw in his team.
"Lots of fight," he said. "We have people playing every down, which is tough. They kept fighting hard. We made some good plays, just not enough."
Silverdale had a quick response to Mason's first touchdown, with Junkins and Bowen hooking up for another big play, this time for 63 yards. Junkins looked past a second-quarter interception to lead his team back downfield for another score before halftime, leaping over a defender at the goal line with two seconds left. The Seahawks led 24-7 at the break.
Delashmitt then made his own contribution to the scoreboard on a 7-yard dash to start the second half.
"Turner and Conner are our playmakers," Connor said. "We found out we'd be without a couple of guys on the offensive line that are quarantining (because of the coronavirus), so they're working with some guys on our O-line that haven't been in those spots. They just kept encouraging them, and they found a way."
Grace would get a final say with just more than two minutes to play on Mason's bruising touchdown catch-and-run on another pass from Knecht.
Silverdale gets a tough Division II-AA East Region game against visiting Knoxville Webb next week, while DII-A's Grace travels to Lakeway Christian Academy in Morristown.
Email Idris Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org.