In a football game highlighted by big plays, one grinding drive in the second half helped Chattanooga Christian School truly take control on its way to a 48-21 home victory over Silverdale Baptist Academy to close the regular season Friday night.
After forcing Silverdale to punt on the opening possession of the second half, the Chargers (4-3, 4-2 Division II-AA East) marched 79 yards in 13 plays to score on a 2-yard run by Javoris Havis, taking a 42-14 lead and putting the game effectively out of reach with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter.
"That's kind of our identity; we like to run it," CCS coach Mark Mariakis said. "We'll take the big plays like the long run (JaMichael Baxter) had because that's nice and we'll take them. But once you keep pounding the football at somebody, it's going to break. That's what we like doing, but we know if somebody misses a tackle, our guys are gone.
"Our kids did a really good job of taking what they gave us."
The Chargers used several big plays to build a 35-14 halftime lead. They opened the second-half scoring with a 34-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sam Hall to Tink Scott midway through the third quarter.
Earlier, Silverdale (5-5, 2-4) had taken advantage of one of the few errors by CCS to tie the game at 7. The Chargers tried a hook-and-lateral on a short pass but dropped the ball, and it was returned to the CCS 5-yard line by Bryson Qualls. Two plays later, Seahawks quarterback Turner Junkins ran the ball into the end zone.
The tie didn't last long as Scott returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to put the Chargers back on top. CCS extended its lead on a 64-yard touchdown run by Scott in the second quarter, followed by a 7-yard scoring run by Havis with 7:15 remaining in the half.
After a Seahawks punt pinned CCS at its 1, Baxter turned the second play of the series into a 97-yard touchdown run for a 35-7 lead at the 4:45 mark of the second quarter. Baxter, who scored again in the second half on a 57-yard run, said the long drive was more satisfying than all the explosive plays.
"One play can certainly change the game," he said, "but when we can just pound and pound, there's going to be more than one big play."
Silverdale was able to put a drive together late in the half. A 22-yard pass from Junkins to Bryson Cline set up a 17-yard touchdown run by Connor Delashmitt with 3:20 remaining, and Delashmitt gave the Seahawks a big play of their own in the second half on a 67-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Silverdale coach Mike Connor said the Seahawks will need to be better when the playoffs begin next week.
"Bottom line, we're a really young team," he said. "We have a lot of sophomores and a lot of juniors playing, and we're still trying to learn what it takes to play at a higher level. You saw glimpses of that tonight, but it's just got to be consistent. Until we have the conviction to be consistent, we're going to have these same issues."
For Mariakis, Friday's senior night win was a good way for his veterans to wind up what has been a challenging regular season for everyone.
"This is great for the seniors," Mariakis said. "And it's not just as football players, but more importantly they're just great character kids. I just love being around them, and we don't want this thing to end. And it's not only the seniors, but this whole team is just fun to be around."
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