JAMES CITY — Warhill High showed plenty of fight and toughness in its first game under new coach Thad Wheeler. What the Lions seemingly lacked in a 42-14 loss to Churchland on Thursday at Wanner Stadium is strength and stamina.
The Lions (0-1) trailed only 15-14 midway through the third quarter on a 9-yard touchdown run by Elijah Onks. But from there, the Truckers (1-0) battered the tiring Lions with a succession of big plays for the win.
Churchland's star was running back Jamil Edwards, who carried 17 times for 143 yards, including touchdowns of 9, 40 and 9 yards. Truckers quarterback Corey Gause (5-of-10 passing, 92 yards) added touchdown passes of 40 and 38 yards.
All of the big plays came in the second half after defense dominated a first half in which neither team netted 60 yards. Churchland could not capitalize on Timothy McDonald's 31-yard interception return to the Lions' 4 because linebacker Karson Dellert made two nice stops of Edwards, one on fourth down inches short of the goal line.
But three plays later, with the Lions operating from their own 1-yard line, Terrance Harris and Ke'Mon Greene combined to tackle the Lions' Collin Bright in the end zone for a safety to put Churchland ahead 2-0. A 15-yard personal foul penalty against Warhill on the ensuing kickoff, and runs of 15 and 9 yards by Edwards — the second for a TD — pushed the Churchland lead to 8-0 late in the first quarter.
A fumble through the end zone by Onks just inches from the goal line on the final play of the second quarter cost Warhill on its deepest first-half penetration. But Onks' 16-yard run, and a 55-yard touchdown pass from Bryson Dannewitz to Keron Dedmon pulled the Lions to within 8-7 just three plays into the second half.
At that point, the runaway train that would become the Churchland offense quickly picked up steam. Edwards ran 26 yards on the first play after the ensuing kickoff, then Michael Huff made a beautiful one handed grab of Gause's pass over the middle on his way to a 40-yard touchdown.
Warhill responded with an eight-play 69-yard touchdown drive, all on the ground, with Onks running the final 9 yards to pay-dirt to pull the Lions to within 15-14. From there it was home-run derby for the Truckers.
Harris juked a Warhill defender in going 38 yards to the end zone on a pass from Gause to make it 22-14 with 6:42 to play in the third quarter. The Truckers needed just two running plays — a 47-yard gain by Vontez Jackson and a 40-yard touchdown burst by Edwards — to make it 29-14 early in the fourth quarter.
Edwards' 9-yard TD run to make it 35-14 was modest by comparison to most of Churchland's second-half exploits. The Truckers went back to the long-ball via Christopher Walker's 23-yard sweep to the end zone to make it 42-14 midway through the fourth quarter.
Warhill running backs got lots of work, as Onks carried 20 times for 84 yards and Bright 18 times for 80. But 66 yards in penalties, two lost fumbles and two interceptions were costly for the Lions against a physically superior foe.
O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.
CHURCHLAND 42, WARHILL 14
Churchland: 8, 0, 14, 20 - 42
Warhill: 0, 0, 14, 0 - 14
Chu: Harris and Greene tackle Bright in end zone, 3:03
Chu: Edwards 9 run (kick blocked), 1:24
War: Dedmon 55 pass from Dannewitz (Onks kick), 11:40