The Unity Christian Lions had every intention of playing Friday’s game for their head coach, Nick Jones.
They did just that and more.
Unity Christian (3-0) picked up their first home win of 2020 with a 74-6 showcase over the visiting Fideles Christian Rangers (1-2) at Grizzard Park.
“Really proud of the guys to maintain focus in the face of adversity,” Lions Defensive Coordinator Samuel Mumpower said in a phone interview. “We’ve got a lot of talented kids.”
Senior quarterback Drew King went 6-for-8 for 104 yards and three touchdown passes and one rushing TD, while the rushing attack involving nine players garnered five more scores.
Sophomore Eli Thompson led the way rushing-wise with 124 yards on five carries. Thompson totaled three touchdowns on the evening.
“Had a really good night and he’s only a sophomore,” Mumpower said. “He’s one of our more athletic guys on our team.”
This past week as been a trying one for Unity Christian School and its football program.
Earlier in the week, Jones lost his mother in a high-speed auto collision in south Alabama. His father, also in the vehicle, was transported to a hospital in Pensacola, Florida, and is still undergoing treatment and recovery.
A moment of silence for the Jones family was held prior to kickoff.
The team decided to pay tribute to their head coach with a “Jones” decal, proudly displaying the family’s name on their helmets beginning with the Fideles game.
The decals are to remain a fixture to Unity’s helmets for the remainder of the 2020 season.
When asked about the emotion of the day prior to kickoff, Mumpower said there was a 100% increase.
“Just the bus ride down here, ... we will always say 123, win, they broke it down 123, Coach Jones,” Mumpower said before the game. “I hope our play reflects the way that we feel.”
Unity went right to work and never checked the rear-view mirror.
UC totaled 310 yards of offense. Defensively, the Lions surrendered 57 yards to the Rangers. Tahari Tolbert snagged an interception he returned 35 yards for a pick six while Hudson Hill notched a scoop-n-score.
Unity Christian hosts Dominion Christian in the homecoming game this Friday, Sept. 25, at Grizzard Park. The Lions are hosting five of their currently-scheduled six remaining contests in Rome.