COLUMBUS — Eight-man football got underway with Hebron Christian Academy Eagles on the road against the Victory Christian Academy Eagles Friday night.
Both teams opened the gridiron season with high expectations from last year. Victory was only one win away from winning it all in their league, Alabama Christian Football Association Eight-Man. Hebron has been ranked as high as third in state news polls and went 7-3 last year.
But the VCA Eagles handed the Pheba Eagles a tough 35-20 loss again this season.
“It was about like last years loss 26-14, a hard fought battle we just came up short again.” said Hebron coach David Foster. “(Victory) should go a long way again in their league.”
Foster said Hebron got behind early and just couldn’t catch up.
“Tonight we just started out flat” said Foster. “The heat was definitely a factor and with only 12 players, the fatigue just set in.
“I was pleased with how our guys got it together and held this team after the first twelve and a half minutes of ball,” Foster added. “You just can’t spot a team like this 21-0 points and expect to come back, although I thought we had our chance to.”
Hebron came out after the half and made a game of it.
Foster said he challenged his troops, who received to the second half kick, to go down and score quickly, if they were going to have any chance at making a comeback.
The Hebron Eagles responded, as they gave Landon Hill enough room to score on a 65-yard run with just 15-seconds gone in the third quarter. Hill also ran in the two point conversion and Hebron was moving in the right direction at 21-8.
Hebron then sent a squib kick that went between the front defenders for Victory Christian and was picked up quickly by one of their skilled players and he ran it all the way down the sideline to the Hebron 25.
Victory running back Anthony Sharp scored on a run from the Hebron 16 yard line with 11:18 left in the third. Sharp also caught a pass from junior Reed Fulgham for the two point conversion and Victory was now ahead 29-8.
“That return of our planned squib kick by the Victory player was a key turning point in the game” explained Foster. “Our guys had met my challenge to go down quick and score after the half, but we just shot ourselves in the foot when we didn’t tackle the runner on the kickoff.”
Hebron scored again with 4:44 left to play in the third on a 51-yard pass play from junior quarterback Channing Tapley to Andrew Myatt. The two point conversion was unsuccessful and Victory Christian led 29-14.
Victory Christian scored on a 20 yard pass from Fulgham to Sharp with 2:36 left in the third. The two point conversion was intercepted by Hebron and ruled dead and Victory led 35-14.
Hebron managed to score once more with 27-seconds left in regulation on a four-yard pass from Tapley to Peyton Griffin. The two point conversion was no good and this one ended with the Victory Christian Eagles on top.
Landon Hill had 10 carries for 112 yards. Hebron quarterback Tapley completed 16 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
On defense, Tapley and Griffin led the way with seven tackles each. They were followed by the Moore Boys, Collin and Jesse, with six stops a piece.
“Hebron is a really good team,” said Victory coach Chris Hamm. “We enjoy playing that type of competition as it prepares us for our district play that starts three weeks from tonight.”
Foster said Hebron looks ahead to their next opponent Humphreys Academy.
“All those teams from the Delta are good,” said Foster. “Humphreys will give us all we can handle next week.”
The Hebron Christian Academy Eagles will face the Humphreys Academy Rebels at home next week. Humphreys lost to Calhoun Academy this week 33-0. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Pheba.