Cardiac kids: FCS battles back to hand Mount Paran Rare Home Loss
What a comeback!
Powered by three interceptions, a fumble recovery, a very long touchdown run in the second half, the undefeated Fellowship Christian School varsity football team posted a 21-13 come-from-behind victory at Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw on Sept. 21.
The Paladins (3-0 in Region games and 5-0 overall) rallied from a 13-0 halftime deficit to beat Mount Paran for the third time since 2016 (FCS is 3-1 against Mount Paran in that span). The Eagles have lost just two home games since 2014 – both to Fellowship.
FCS rattled off 21 unanswered points in the second half. What did coach Al Morrell tell his team at halftime?
“They showed us a totally different defensive set than we expected [in the first half],” Morrell said. “We had to make adjustments. Basically I told them to do what they have been doing, make plays and that we would be ok. They never quit. I am very proud of our boys. They believed in each other. They believed in our coaching staff and our system. Praise God.”
The Paladins got on the board first on their second possession of the third quarter. Senior Parker Addison intercepted a pass in Mount Paran territory and returned to the Mount Paran 12-yard-line. Three plays from scrimmage later senior Brooks Bryant connected with sophomore Jordan Brewer on a 14-yard TD play at 4:59. Sophomore Will Peterson booted the extra point to cut the Eagles’ lead to 13-7.
It didn’t take the Paladins long to take the lead.
Sophomore Lawson Haigler intercepted a batted pass and sprinted to the Mount Paran 26-yard-line at 2:09 of the third.
Five scrimmage plays later, senior Cameron Gill scored from the 6-yard-line on a run. Following Peterson’s kick, Fellowship had the one-point lead just four seconds into the fourth quarter.
The Eagles’ next series ended on another interception, this one by senior Cam Cochran at 8:32. Bryant had to punt five plays later, but Mount Paran turned the ball over again on its next series. This time, sophomore Caleb McClung pounced on a fumble with 3:19 to play inside the Mount Paran 10-yard-line.
Sophomore Murphy Reeves sealed the victory with an incredible 91-yard run. He took the pitch and quickly got to the FCS sidelines and sprinted past the Eagle defenders on his way to the end zone. The Paladins tacked on Peterson’s kick to take a 21-13 lead.
Following a scoreless first quarter, the Eagles scored three times in the second quarter. The team had a 34-yard field goal at 8:18, a five-yard run and extra point at 5:50 and a 35-yard field goal as the first half buzzer sounded.
Mount Paran out gained FCS, 366-286, in the game, but the Paladins capitalized on Mount Paran’s turnovers to win the game.
Morrell admitted he was not expecting Mount Paran to turn the ball over four times in the second half, or five times overall. FCS had just one lost fumble.
“They challenge you, and are a very good football team,” Morrell said. “But our kids did an amazing job all night, but especially in the second half. Turnovers were the difference in the game.”
Reeves led FCS with 160 yards on 14 rushes as the Paladins gained 219 yards on the ground, including 168 in the second half. Bryant completed five-of-11 passes for 67 yards. Brewer caught four passes for 67 yards, and Gill grabbed one for no gain.
It was a huge win for the Paladins, who close out the regular season with four consecutive Region games and a crossover contest following a bye week.
“There is still a lot of football left, but this game gives us an opportunity to win the sub-Region,” Morrell said. “If we had lost, that would have been tough. We have to win our games, but this gives us an opportunity.”
McClung (seven assisted tackles) and senior Reed Bott (five solo stops) led the Paladin defense with 10 total tackles apiece, while Haigler recorded nine stops (five assists).
Gill had an interception in the first half.
(Photos by Kevin Bryant and Chip Cookston)
Week 5 Preview: FCS Heads for Region Showdown at Mount Paran
The varsity football team from Fellowship Christian School takes its undefeated record to Kennesaw for a Region contest at Mount Paran Christian School.
FCS (4-0 overall) lost the last meeting between the schools in the second game of the 2017 season, 26-7 to the Eagles at Bob Lord Field on Aug. 25, 2017 that snapped the Paladins’ 10-game regular-season win streak. Overall, Fellowship is 2-3 against Mount Paran, including a pair of victories during the stellar 2016 season.
“They are an extremely talented football team,” said head coach Al Morrell, who is 38-22 at Fellowship. “Our defense will be tested. Their quarterback is very, very good. He leads a ball-control offense. We have to stop him. They can be very dominant.”
The Eagles enter the game 1-0 at home this year, and are 2-1 overall. The team’s lone loss came on Aug. 31 at Irwin County, 40-20, the state’s No. 1 Class A public school.
“Mount Paran is No. 6 in the private school rankings,” Morrell said. “The winner could be the potential sub-Region champion.”
The Paladins (2-0 in Region games) will have to control time of possession, limit turnovers and play good defense to defeat Mount Paran, according to Morrell.
“Our offense needs to do what it has been doing,” he said. “Our defense will be tested, but they’re coming off the best game of the season.”
On Sept. 14, FCS defeated Stratford Academy, 41-14, at home, and Mount Paran won 42-7 at King’s Ridge Christian School.
The Paladin offense has earned at least 41 points in all four victories, and has gained 1,938 total yards. The running backs have combined for 1,383 yards and senior quarterback Brooks Bryant has thrown for 555 yards (30-for-45) with seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
Sophomore Jordan Brewer has been Bryant’s favorite target with 18 catches for 285 yards and four touchdowns (all team highs). Senior Cam Cochran has hauled in seven passes for 129 yards and two scores, while senior Cameron Gill has five catches for 141 yards and two TDs.
Sophomore sensation Murphy Reeves leads the FCS ground game with 51 carries, 540 yards and six touchdowns. Gill is next with 246 yards and five TDs (on 25 carries), while sophomore Lawson Haigler has picked up 235 yards on 35 carries with one score. Cochran has collected 106 yards and three TDs on 19 attempts. Bryant has three rushing touchdowns.
Seniors Will Kreikemeier (19 assisted tackles) and Reed Bott (eight solo stops) shared the team lead with 25 tackles.
Sophomore Nathan Nardone ranks third on the Paladins with 24 tackles. Nardone is tied with Kreikemeier for the team lead in assisted stops. Sophomore Caleb McClung tops the squad with 20 solo tackles and is fourth with 23 total tackles.
Cochran has made a team-best four interceptions. Bott has registered a team-high four tackles for a loss, and Kreikemeier has three. Both played share first on the team with two sacks.