Christian Life Academy continued its turnaround season with a convincing 47-23 Class 1A playoff win over Crescent City Christian at Crusader Stadium on Friday night.
After a 1-9 season in 2010, the Crusaders improved to 8-3 on the year.
“We’re pleased,” CLA coach Keith Dooley said. “We executed well, we got our backups in, and we stayed injury-free. We’ve got some playmakers, and they’re going to have to make big plays in the tough bracket we’re in.”
Undersized and outmanned, Crescent City (5-5) suited out only 16 players and had no answer for the brawn of tackles Braxton Morgan and Jerry Burden or the speed and elusiveness of Jerrell Richardson.
The 287-pound Morgan and 245-pound Burden anchored a defensive line that held Crescent City in check until the game was well in hand.
Richardson, meanwhile, scored four touchdowns and carried 10 times for 115 yards before leaving the game after his first carry of the second half.
“They have some amazing athletes and some huge athletes,” Crescent City coach Nick Perret said. “We knew we were going up against Goliaths, and we just wanted to give them our best. We weren’t surprised this time and we knew how to prepare better, but we had a couple of interceptions that just killed us.”
Christian Life sleepwalked its way through the first quarter, managing only a 6-0 lead by driving 84 yards on its only possession of the quarter.
The second quarter was a different story. The Crusaders had big plays on offense, defense and special teams to add 35 points to their total. The defense set the tone with interceptions on three straight series, beginning when defensive back Tremmell Johnson intercepted an option pitch and sprinted 48 yards untouched for a touchdown.
Caleb Domingue got CLA’s next interception, which was followed by Richardson’s second touchdown run, this one going for 40 yards.
On the next series, Burden intercepted a screen pass and carried to the Crescent City 20. Richardson capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.
“Any time you get turnovers, that’s huge,” Dooley said. “These guys were really flying around the ball. Jerry Burden did a great job of reading the screen, and it was entertaining watching him run because he’s not used to doing that.
“We practice these (interception) drills every day, and sometimes they get boring, but tonight we were able to reap the benefits,” he said.
Crescent City got into Crusaders territory for the only time in the half on a well-executed flea-flicker that resulted in a 79-yard touchdown pass from Blake Quinlavin to Christian Todaro.
Richardson and the Crusaders’ special teams made a big play on the ensuing kickoff when Richardson broke off an 82-yard return to the 3.
Richardson scored three plays later for his fourth touchdown of the game.
After the Crusaders got a 38-yard Dameion Lee field goal to start the second half, the Pioneers scored 16 unanswered points against Christian Life’s second defense.
Quinlavin was the Crescent City catalyst in those drives, setting up a 1-yard run by Izzy Arceri with a 32-yard reception and a 20-yard run. Quinlavin then scored himself on a 32-yard pass from Arceri.
Quinlavin who led the Pioneers with 146 yards rushing on 28 carries, threw for 78 yards and caught four passes for 78 more.
After having his first extra-point attempt blocked, Lee scored 11 points on five PATs and two field goals. He was short on another 49-yard attempt.