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Chargers bolt to big first half lead en route to region win

By Doug Gorman

dgorman@news-daily.com

It was one of those games where everything just seemed to go right for the Eagle's Landing Christian Chargers.

On a night when ELCA relied on big plays by both the offense and the defense, the Chargers built a 35-0 lead against First Presbyterian from Macon at the half, and the scored held up the rest of the way in the Region 5-A showdown.

"I was proud of the way our defense played," ELCA head coach Jonathan Gess said. "I was proud of the way our offense played. Our goal is we want to get better each and every week. We played better tonight than we did two weeks ago. It's not going to be perfect everytime."

The victory kept the No. 6-ranked Class A team unbeaten at 4-0 overall and 1-0 in region play.

ELCA dominated the battle for field postion, rolling up 438 yards of total offense. First Presbyterian, which is in its first year as a member of the Georgia High School Association, had trouble getting its offense on track, and picked up just 54 yards of offense for the game.

Quarterback Aaron Spratlin was the catalyst for the Chargers, completing 11 of 12 passes for 221 yards. Twice he hit his favorite target, Virginia Tech commitment, Christian Reeves on 64 and 41 yard touchdown strikes.

"It was important to take control of the game early," Spratlin said. "The first few games have been close in the first half, then it would take us one or two drives in the second half to get us rolling. This game we came out really focused."

But it was the defense that helped get things started for the Chargers less than two minutes into the contest when Cole Carrera stepped in front of a Clay Martin pass, intercepting it and returning it for a 31-yard touchdown

First Presbyterian moved the ball into Charger territory on its next series thanks to Martin's 20-yard strike to Mathew Davis, but the drive bogged down and the ball wen back to ELCA on downs. It was one of the best series for the Vikings all night.

Three plays later, the Chargers were in the end zone again. This time when Spratlin connected on his first scoring strike to Reeves on an acrobatic catch he turned into a touchdown.

ELCA added to its side of the scoreboard midway through the second quarter. Mixing up several running plays with a couple of key passes including a fourth-down strike to Conner Weatherington, and the Chargers were back in the end zone on Kayante Green's 1-yard plunge with 9:28 left in the first half.

The Chargers added two more first-half touchdowns in the final 3:11 of the second quarter. After stopping their guest on four downs, the Chargers took over at First Presbyterian's own 44.

Running back John Tatum then went to work, finding the end zone on the first play of the series, a 44-yard sprint.

The Spratlin to Reeves combination hooked up one more time before the break, this time on a 41 yard touchdown pass.

"The players around me really make my job easier," Spratlin said. "It's nice to know I can throw up a pass and a guy like Christian is going to come down with it."

Gess knows all games are important from here on out.

"We have to come to play and bust our tails every night," he said.

ELCA is home again next week against Whitefield Academy.