All told, Columbus Christian Academy scored four touchdowns to Christian Collegiate Academy’s eight in Friday’s season opener in Steens.
But it was what the Rams and Bulldogs each did after reaching the end zone that helped Christian Collegiate pad its lead en route to a 62-24 win.
The visiting Bulldogs attempted a two-point conversion after every single touchdown, and they were successful seven of eight times. That’s 14 extra points — equivalent, of course, to two touchdowns (and conventional PATs).
Christian Collegiate showcased creativity as well as pure size and skill to convert nearly every time it went for two.
After a 39-yard passing touchdown from DJ Biggs to Aidan Castillo, Biggs spun and delivered a jump pass to Keshaun Harris in the back of the end zone for a conversion.
Biggs powered in the next score — a 36-yard run — then simply bullied his way into the end zone for two more points.
That put the Bulldogs ahead by 36 points, triggering a running clock that made the final 16 minutes, 4 seconds go by in a flash.
The Rams could have made things a lot more respectable with success on their conversions, but they struggled all night. Columbus Christian fumbled on its first two conversion attempts, missed its lone extra-point kick and dropped a pass on its fourth touchdown.
Finding success on PATs wouldn’t have won Friday’s game for the Rams, but it could make a difference in the coming weeks.
— Theo DeRosa
Patriots show balance and precision on offense
Finding a rhythm can be difficult for teams early in their season, especially when replacing key starters from the year before. Jack Ketchum has the task of stepping up in place of Mack Howard at Heritage Academy after Howard’s departure for Oxford.
There wasn’t much work for Ketchum to do on Friday, however, as the Patriots’ running game set the tone early and put the contest away by halftime in their 45-16 win over Lamar. Running back Jay Stevenson ran for over 200 yards and two touchdowns in his first game with the team, and Luke Fisher took the rest of the work on the ground.
That did not, however, mean that Ketchum didn’t show much in his first game as the starter under center.
Over the course of the game, Ketchum became more involved as the Patriots tried to see what the passing game could offer them. He delivered, tossing a couple scores to dominant receiver Trey Naugher and comfortably managing the offense until the second team came in late in the fourth quarter. The efficiency never dipped for the Patriots, and the synchronicity between the playcallers and the quarterback showed itself in the entire offensive unit’s on-field execution.
The balance and precise execution across the offense will be a hassle for opponents this season.
— Colin Damms
First-half passing troubles stunted drives early on for Volunteers, Raiders
Friday night’s Starkville Academy-Jackson Academy game was one that was decided from the second half on, with the Raiders getting the scoring going just 25 seconds into the third quarter.
However, the biggest reason for there being no scoring in the first half, specifically from the Volunteers’ side of things, was the inability to establish the passing game.
Starkville Academy starting quarterback Briggs Bennett found his stride in the second half in a big way as his receiving corps, led by Drew Williams, was strong. That wasn’t nearly the case for the first 24 minutes, with bad routes run and balls overthrown to receivers.
Bennett completed just three passes in the first half, going 1 for 8 to start the game. When the Vols ran a passing play, it just looked like the receiving corps was out of sorts and had no clue where the ball was going.
On the other side of things, Jackson Academy quarterback Clayton White had a much more accurate half, starting out 7 for 9 for 72 yards in the air. Momentum shifted quickly in the second quarter, however, as White finished the half going 1 for 5 with two interceptions, including one down the left sideline that had potential scoring implications written all over it.
In the second half, despite some trickery from the Raiders to start the half, they almost exclusively stayed on the run while Starkville Academy had much better passing success.
That slow start in the passing game will be something to watch for Starkville Academy moving forward.
— Alex Murphy
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