American Christian’s 50-0 victory over Holtville in the first round of the AHSAA Class 4A playoffs was a showing of complete domination from start to finish.
“I thought it was a very crisp performance from our team tonight,” Patriots coach Chris Smelley said. “We really challenged ourselves this week in practice leading up to this week. We had a great week and it showed up tonight.”
After being shutout against Bibb County a week ago, the Patriots’ offense exploded for 412 total yards and six touchdowns. Five of which were passes thrown by senior quarterback Lawson Pratt.
“He prepared really well in practice this week,” Patriots running back Scooter Graham said. “Probably the best he ever has. It was a great team effort.”
Graham did his damage on the ground, running for 125 yards, including and a 31-yard touchdown run on the first possession of the game. Later on in the second quarter, he caught a 26-yard pass for a score.
“Coach told me before that game that he was going to depend on me,” Graham said. “I counted on my guys to back me up. They did their thing and I did mine.”
The Bulldogs (6-5) offense could muster up only 82 yards of offense against a stingy Patriot defense. An opportunistic Patriots’ secondary intercepted Holtville quarterback Drake Baker twice.
Patriots defensive linemen Jalen Dubose made the highlight of the night defensively when he tackled Holtville’s Drew Pickett for a 2-yard loss into the end zone for a safety.
“As soon as we saw how close the ball was to the goal line when we knew we had to go get it,” Dubose said. “It was a competition between us guys on the line to see who would get the safety. It felt amazing to score some points because as defensive linemen it almost never happens.”
The Patriots (10-1) controlled the special teams part of the game as well, with 30 and 37-yard field goals by Gabe Henson.
With the win on Friday night, the Patriots have advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the third straight season.
“I am so proud and excited for this team,” Smelley said. “We have another chance to play and survive next week. We are going to try and make the most of every opportunity we get.”