When Calvary Christian and Unity Christian first met back on Aug. 23 at Britt David Park, Unity Christian rallied to pull out a 36-35 win over the Knights.
Friday night's rematch in the opening round of the ICSGA playoffs was nowhere near as close. Calvary steam rolled Unity 35-0 at Britt David Park to advance to next week's semifinals at Loganville Christian (9-1).
"This was our best game of the season by far," said Calvary Christian coach Brian Osborne. "We haven't had anywhere near as complete a game as we played tonight. We're definitely playing our best football of the season right now."
Calvary (6-4) was led by its ground game, which ran over Unity (4-6) to the tune of 324 rushing yards on 45 carries. Sophomore fullback Anthony Santiago did the heavy lifting, rolling up 171 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. Freshman Jacquez Green pitched in 76 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries and Jeffrey Scott had 55 yards of his own on another seven totes.
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"I was a lineman last year, but this year I was moved into the backfield and I can see better now that I'm behind the ball," said Santiago, who took over as the Knights' starting fullback midway through the season. "I can't do anything without my linemen, though. They make it all possible."
Santiago's bruising style -- running to contact rather than avoiding it like most running backs do -- served as an emotional spark plug for Calvary throughout the the two-plus quarters he played before being lifted when the Knights had a 35-0 lead.
"I definitely like that contact," said Santiago. "I'm not fast enough to go around people, so I go through them."
The Knights -- who are 4-1 in their last five games -- scored their first touchdown on a 10-play, 85-yard drive that ate up almost six minutes of clock. Green capped off the march with a 15-yard run and freshman Thomas Chappel made the first of his five extra points to give Calvary a 7-0 lead with 3:31 to go in the first.
The Knights forced Unity to turn the ball over on downs at the Calvary 39 and then went 61 yards in six plays to score again. This time, Santiago took it in from 3 yards out and Chappel's extra point made it 14-0 midway through the second quarter. Calvary fumbled on the Unity 19-yard line on its next drive, but the Knights forced a Unity turnover on the next play from scrimmage. Two plays later Santiago scored again on a 17-yard run, and Calvary took a 21-0 lead into halftime.
Santiago and Green had touchdown runs of 10 and 1 yard, respectively, on Calvary's first two drives of the second half to put the Knights up 35-0 with 4:51 to go in the third quarter. Osborne lifted his starting backfield in favor of subs for the remainder of the game.
"Our offensive success really starts with our line," said Osborne. "They open up holes outside and inside and allow me to call different plays to keep defenses on their heels."
The fourth quarter was played with a running clock and Calvary substituted freely, but the Knights still held Unity to zero yards of offense and picked off a pass in the final 12 minutes to preserve the shutout, Calvary's second of the season. Calvary's defense held Unity Christian to just 122 yards of total offense in the game and forced three turnovers.
"I felt like we never were able to put together a drive," said Unity head coach Joe Curtiss. "We'd have a good play or two, then we'd make a mistake with a penalty or a sack. That happens when you have a young team, but we didn't quit."
Friday at Britt David ParkUnity 0 0 0 0--0
Calvary 7 14 14 0--35First Quarter
C - Jacquez Green 15 run (Thomas Chappel kick), 3:31.
C - Anthony Santiago 3 run (Chappel kick), 7:36.
C - Santiago 17 run (Chappel kick), 2:04.
C - Santiago 10 run (Chappel kick), 8:07.
C - Green 1 run (Chappel kick), 4:51.
Records: Unity Christian 4-6, Calvary Christian 6-4. Next: Calvary Christian at Loganville Christian (ICSGA Playoff Semifinals), Friday.