For the final game of a 9-1 season, Eagles football travels to No. 1 seed Mission Prep in San Luis Obispo, Nov. 16. The game marked the fourth consecutive CIF Central Section 8-Man Championship appearance for FC.
With a rush-heavy offense, Mission Prep’s offense is run-centric, with under 100 passing yards per game, but a season average of 325 rushing yards.
Averaging 325 rushing yards per game, Mission Prep’s run-heavy offense handing FC their only loss of the 2018 season before the Championship matchup.
The Royals received the opening kickoff on the 30 yard line. Tackles by Griffin Schmit, ’19, and Aaron LaCroix, ’19 kept Mission Prep from breaking free, but on the third consecutive handoff, they scored a 27 yard touchdown. Mission Prep scored twice more early in the first quarter.
Down 20-0, the Eagles first first down and a much-needed break came when Mission Prep held Jonah Lozano, ’19, and was called for pass interference. With decent field position and a fresh set of downs, quarterback Anthony Lonardo, ’19, completed passes to Schmidt and LaCroix, along with runs from Blake Burdan, ’20, brought the Eagles to the goal line. Lonardo finished the drive by running four yards through a pile of defenders on fourth down. A failed PAT made the first quarter score 20-6.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the second quarter followed a similar scoring pattern. The Eagles turned the ball over twice, once on downs and once on a 50 yard pick-six. LaCroix made one of the game’s biggest defensive plays game by intercepting a 25 yard pass, giving FC the ball on midfield. The first half ended with a 12 yard touchdown from Lonardo, bringing the score to 39-12.
To fire up the players for the second half, cheerleaders and students who made the trip lined up on the field as the Eagles ran back to their sideline.
The Fresno Christian Eagles are cheered on by supporters as they attempt to rally back from their 39-12 deficit at the half against Mission Prep, Nov. 16. @fresnochristian #thefeather @FresnoBeeSports @PAGMETER pic.twitter.com/ImGHkGVucT
— The Feather Online (@thefeather) November 17, 2018
Mission Prep continued to score into the third quarter. Down by 34 points, FC’s offense attempted to convert on fourth downs, which resulted in two turnovers.
The Eagles outscored Mission Prep in the fourth quarter, but not by the 41 points needed to win. The final score totaled 60-20 in favor of the Royals.
Despite being outmatched physically, head coach Russ Counts says the team played just as hard as in other games.
“They just never quit,” Counts said. “They kept fighting back and they kept working hard. To be honest, it’s a pride thing, they kept playing for integrity.”
Mission Prep ran for 399 yards and earned 79 passing yards, scoring eight touchdowns. Fresno Christian has not published stats for the game.
Throughout the season, FC won all of their five home games and scored an average of 45.2 points a game. The Eagles finished with a 10-2 record and title of section runner-up .@thefeather, Instagram @thefeatheronline and Facebook @thefeatheronline.
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