Calvary Christian coach Brian Osborne wondered about his running back’s ability to fill holes left by a couple of All-Bi-City player from the 2012 season. Altogether, the Knights had zero yards returning in 2013.
Those questions were answered on a soggy Friday night at Britt David Part, albeit in a 36-35 loss to Unity Christian.
Unity Christian, trailing by one possession, marched down the field in less than two minutes to score a touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Anderson Krueger to Markele Smith and punched in the subsequent two-point conversion to grab a 36-35 lead with a minute left. It forced a fumble on the first play of the ensuing Calvary drive, the Knights’ fourth lost fumble of the game, to clinch the victory.
“I don’t have my head down,” Osborne said. “It’s Week 1, it’s a non-region game. We saw some thing we need to keep working on, but we saw some things that we were very good at.”
Despite the loss, the Knights’ running game appeared to be more than ready for the 2013 season. Led by 142 yards and two touchdowns from Daulton Drew, the Knights put pressure on Unity all night long.
All five of Calvary Christian’s touchdowns came on runs, two from Drew, one from Taylor Faulk, one from Jacquez Green, and one from Anthony Santiago.
Osborne had questions about the unit coming into the game, and those questions appeared to be answered early and often as Calvary Christian, a Wing-T offense, ran the ball on nearly every play. Dalton bowled over defenders on a number of occasions on his way to 142 yards.
“Daulton and Santiago were men out there,” Osborne said. “They played just like we hoped they would.”
The Knights took an early two-possession lead thanks to the dominance of the running game. Faulk punched in the first score and Drew added on just four minutes later. Unity Christian came to life shortly thereafter, however, cutting the lead and eventually tying the score.
Krueger ran in the first score from 1-yard out and Harris punched in the two-point conversion. Unity tied the score with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Krueger to Smith with only 26 seconds remaining in the first have. Calvary quickly responded as quarterback Adam Gray connected for one of his two complete passes for the night, a 58-yarder to Andrew Walsh that put the Knights on the 1-yard line. Calvary’s Green punched it in on the next play to put the Knights up 21-14.
Unity’s Krueger took advantage of the Knights pass defense again on the first drive out of the half, connecting with Smith for a 21-yard touchdown pass to take a 22-21 lead. It scored again on a 66-yard pass between the same combination on fourth and 11 in the fourth quarter to make it 28-21.
Calvary scored twice in a period of six minutes on touchdown runs by Santiago and Drew to take a 35-28 lead, but Krueger hit Smith for one more touchdown pass with just over a minute in the game and again for a two-point conversion to clinch the victory. Krueger picked up 246 yards passing and four touchdown passes, all to Smith.
The Knights gave Unity Christian extra opportunities, turning the ball over on four occasions, including once inside the 10 and once on the final drive of the game.
Osborne said the focus for the next week would be protecting the football and pass defense.
“That’s the two big things,” Osborne said. “We’ll face the defending state champions next week, and it’ll just be another challenge to see if we can play with those guys.”
The game was played under sub-par weather conditions. It was delayed for 40 minutes at the beginning of the game due to lightning and was hit by heavy showers late in the third quarter.
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Friday at Britt David Park
Unity Christian 0 14 8 14—36
Calvary Christian 14 7 0 14—35
C—Faulk 5 run (Chappell kick), 7:12
C—Drew 3 run (Chappell kick), 3:47
U—Harris 1 run (Harris run), 11:28
U—Smith 40 pass from Krueger (run failed), :26
C—Green 1 run (Chappell kick), :00
U—Smith 21 pass from Krueger (Mitchell pass from Krueger), 9:08
U—Smith 66 pass from Krueger (pass failed), 10:04
C—Santiago 15 run (kick blocked), 7:59
C—Drew 2 run (Green run), 3:41
U—Smith 10 pass from Krueger (Smith pass from Krueger), 1:06
Team record: Unity Christian, 1-0; Calvary Christian, 0-1. Next: Calvary Christian at Loganville Christian, 7:30 p.m. Friday