Fellowship Christian pulled out a heart-stopping 21-20 victory over Lakeview Academy in the football season opener for both teams Friday night in Gainesville.
After Lakeview closed to within a point on a 11-yard run by Tom Drury with 2:44 left in the game, Fellowship Christian blocked the extra point and then ran out the clock to earn the win in a hard-fought contest.
"This was a hard lesson for us to learn," Lions coach Matthew Gruhn said. "We have to understand the difference between discouragment and disappointment. Discouragement means you don't come back. We're disappointed, of course, but we'll work hard this week and try to get better."
Down 14-7 at halftime, Fellowship Christian quarterback Coleman Poje, a sophomore, threw for two touchdowns on 11-for-19 passing and 208 yards to lead the comeback. His favorite target was 6-foot-4 split end D.J. Shirley, who snared seven balls for 173 yards.
The first half belong to Lakeview's Drury, who rushed for 89 of his 130 yards in the first two quarters. The senior running back was a workhorse, carrying the ball 28 times up the middle.
"We couldn't stop Drury in the first half," Fellowship Christian coach Terry Luck said. "But we made some adjustments at halftime and it made the difference."
The Lions took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter on a 14-yard pass from Jordan Chastain to Dalton Munday, but the extra point failed. Midway through the second quarter, the Paladins pulled ahead 7-6 on a 37-yard pass from Poje to Shirley.
With only 1:49 left in the first half, Lakeview quarterback Jordan Chastain found a wide open Chris Askounis at the 50-yard line and he raced untouched to the end zone to make it 14-6. Chastain finished the game with 76 passing yards on four completions in six attempts.
Lakeview was hampered especially by penalties, 12 for 95 yards. The one that really hurt was a holding call that brought back a 74-yard strike from Chastain to Askounis on the second play from scrimmage after halftime.
With 2:33 to go in the third quarter, Poje scampered 5 yards for a touchdown. And Tyler Hart scored on a nifty 3-yard run with 9:06 left in the fourth quarter for what proved to be the winning margin after the extra point was true.