They say revenge is best served cold, and on a chilly night at Grizzard Park, the Unity Christian Lions did just that, ousting the Peachtree Academy Panthers 42-16 to advance to the 2020 Georgia Association of Private and Parochial Schools (GAPPS) Class AA State Championship Game.
The victory avenges last year’s 26-0 semifinal loss to the Panthers, which ended Unity Christian’s perfect 10-0 season.
Now the Lions 10-0 and will play for all the marbles next Friday night at Grizzard Park.
“We’re super proud of them, but it just puts us one step closer to our goal,” Lions head coach Nick Jones said in a phone interview. “Making it to the state championship game is great, playing in it is great, but we want to win it.”
Through the first quarter, the game was scoreless, but a scoop-n-score in the second quickly brought momentum to Unity’s sideline.
“Eli Thompson takes a fumble recovery to the house, and after that, it just seemed like everything jumpstarted for us,” Jones said.
Senior quarterback Drew King provided offense with both his arm and legs, throwing 9-of-15 for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
He also rushed 21 times for 176 yards and a couple of scores.
Eli Thompson and Levi Lodge caught King’s touchdown passes.
Caleb Thompson rushed on 11 occasions for 44 yards and a ground scores.
Defensively, both Jessie Smith and Eli Thompson reached double digits in tackles.
Eli Thompson’s scoop-n-score was a 62-yard TD return.
Jones’ record as head coach goes to 10-0, and said following the state semifinal victory he was “over the moon.”
“I’m so proud of these kids and watch our seniors, who were juniors last year, who all played in that playoff loss, to come back and have the ability to right that game from last year,” Jones said. “To play like they did was just tremendous.”
Unity Christian now has one final game in the 2020 campaign against Cherokee Christian, a team UC defeated 30-16 back on Oct. 16 during the regular season.
“They’re a team we have faced, but, like any other good team, they’re going to put in some new wrinkles,” Jones said. “We’re going to spend this next week prepping and getting ready for a state championship game. We’re excited.”
Unity and Cherokee will decide GAPPS Class AA football champion next Friday at Grizzard Park, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.