Not many things went right for Madison Prep in the first half as Christian Life claimed a surprising 7-0 halftime lead.
But the Chargers proved they know how to finish, scoring 40 fourth-quarter points to claim a 48-15 victory over Christian Life in a District 6-1A opener played Saturday night at McKinley High.
“We had to get it together,” Madison Prep running back Troy James said. “We saw it wasn’t going to be us just taking over. We knew they (the Crusaders) weren’t going to lay down.
“As a team we had to put the pieces together and know that together we can get anything done.”
James, who had 88 yards on just three carries was part of a two-prong rushing attack that accounted for 244 second-half yards for the Chargers (5-1, 1-0), who got their first district win in their second year of varsity play.
Quincy Banks led MPA with 117 yards on eight carries, including a 70-yard TD run. James scored on a 31-yard run and had a two-point PAT run.
Credit Christian Life (2-4, 0-1) with a gutsy performance. The Crusaders lost their top player, receiver Justin Hutchinson, to a first-half injury and had several others go down with injuries or cramps.
In addition to leading 7-0, thanks to Jacob Williams’ 29-yard TD pass to Hutchinson on the Crusaders’ first drive, CLA also answered Banks’ TD run. Williams tossed a 52-yard TD pass to Trey Lewis. Jacob Kibobi’s two-point conversion run made it 15-8.
Williams completed 11 of 20 passes for 189 yards and two TDs. A game plan that utilized short screen passes worked well until a lack of depth and fatigue set in. MPA picked off three Williams passes in the second half.
“We had a great scheme going in and felt very confident,” CLA coach Keith Dooley said. “We didn’t want to deviate from it. We had to be strategic because we knew they’re loaded with talent, and when we lost Justin Hutchinson, it changed things some.
“Then there were some missed reads and pressure from them. We tried to force a few things. We ran out of linebackers at the end. We were hoping we had just enough, but the numbers caught up with us.”
The first MPA score of the fourth quarter was an unusual one. Charrod Brumfield completed an 18-yard pass to Richard, who fumbled. The Chargers’ Otis Dunmars scooped up the ball and ran the final 35 yards for the TD just 12 seconds into the final period.
A fumble recovery by Robert Dixon III helped set up the next score. Banks ran for 20 yards before Brumfield lofted a 4-yard TD toss to Jaylen Brown at the 10:41 mark. By the time James scored on his TD run a little over four minutes later, Madison Prep had the separation it needed.
Madison Prep coach Michael Roach started making plans for next week’s showdown with Southern Lab in the postgame huddle. As he watched his players jog off the field, Roach admitted the Chargers were fortunate.
“I tell you what we did … we overlooked these guys,” Roach said of CLA. “Christian Life has a good football team. We challenged our guys at halftime to step it up on defense at halftime, and they did.
“We got some turnovers and some easy scores. We’re still a young football team, and we’ve got to come out and play better on every down, regardless of who we play.