COVINGTON, Ga. — Peachtree Academy came up short in its 2020 home opener against the Unity Christian Lions on Friday night, losing by a score 30-18.
Big plays and each defense’s inability to prevent those big plays were the theme of this matchup between these high-powered offenses.
Peachtree Academy’s defensive woes would start on the opening possession, as a 47-yard run from Unity quarterback Drew King set up a 22-yard touchdown pass to Levi Lodge. The Lions would strike again in the second quarter when Caleb Thompson ran it in from 30 yards out, setting up a 16-0 lead.
Panthers defensive back Anthony Owens’ first quarter interception was their only turnover of the game.
Unity Christian kept Peachtree scoreless in the first quarter, then the Panthers finally broke through late in the second quarter, as Dakota Boeckman connected to Shamari Samuels for a 52-yard touchdown pass, cutting the Lions’ lead to 16-6.
The first half ended in dramatic fashion, with each team exchanging blows before halftime, including a 38-yard strike from Dakota Boeckman to Samuels with 1.4 seconds remaining. The Lions would take a 24-12 lead into halftime.
Peachtree got the ball to start the second half, with a five-minute, 21-second drive highlighted by Dakota Boeckman’s ability to keep the play alive despite the inexperience of the Panther offensive line.
“We have some things to work on,” Panther head coach Jim Eidson said after the game, noting the fact that two-thirds of the 2019 Peachtree Academy team graduated in the spring.
Shamari Samuels would close the drive with a 41-yard touchdown run to cut the Lions lead to six, 24-18. And the Lions would strike again late in the third quarter as Samuel Mumpower broke through for a 69-yard run, extending their lead to 12.
Samuels had a huge night for the Panthers, accounting for all three of the Panthers’ touchdowns.
“I’ve known [Shamari] for a very long time,” Eidson said. “He’s in his second year of football and to be playing how he’s playing is very special.”
No points were scored during the fourth quarter, even though Peachtree Academy had the ball as far as the Lions’ 25-yardline.
Eidson expected a tough matchup against the Lions, who Peachtree Academy faced twice in 2019.
“They beat us once and we were able to knock them off in the playoffs, which gave them a lot of motivation over the summer to come back and beat us,” Eidson explained. “They’re a good team.”
Even with the loss, Eidson explained how he and the team are just happy to be out there playing.
“We all thought we might not get to [play this season],” Eidson said. “But we’re really proud to be out here.”
The Panthers will look to come back from this loss and continue their quest for a third consecutive state championship at home on Friday, Sept. 18 against the Cherokee Christian Warriors.