Summit Christian Academy didn’t expect Lafayette County to come out and throw haymakers, but that’s exactly what the Huskers (9-3), did in the Class 2, District 7 final on Friday.
The first punch was delivered on the opening kickoff as Lafayette’s Mason Rumsey returned the kick 73-yards to give the Huskers a quick 7-0, leaving the Eagles dazed.
Things got worse for Summit Christian two plays into its opening as Christian Newsome fumbled the ball after he hauled in a 6-yard pass from Grayson Sprouse, giving the Huskers prime field possession, field possession they almost squandered.
Facing a third-and-30, Lafayette Co. quarterback Noah Isles drifted to his right and completed a 32-yard pass to Dawson Kouril. Four plays later, Austin Gard capped off the 11 play, 44 yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Huskers a 14-0 lead.
“They came out swinging,” Summit Christian coach Todd Berck said after his team defeated the Huskers 35-14. “It was huge. I was trying to stay calm … it was early in the game. We thought we were the better football team. We just had to steady the ship.”
Needing a spark, Summit Christian turned to its defense. After the Eagles’ ensuing drive stalled deep inside Lafayette Co. territory, the Huskers took over hoping to put the game away early.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
After a false start put the Huskers offense behind the chains, Berck decided to put a little pressure on Isles. Berck’s gamble paid off as Zeke Oppriecht forced Isles to his left. Isles, who was in the end zone, tried to evade the pressure, and aimlessly threw the ball to Newsome, who was already standing in the end zone when he caught the ball, giving him the easiest touchdown of his four year career.
The interception proved to be the turning point of the game.
“I was just trying to tackle him in the end zone,” Newsome admitted after the game. “ … He was rolling out and he just shuffled the ball (in my direction). I was looking at the refs and was like ‘Is this a touchdown?’ … It was great.”
Summit Christian tied the game midway through the second quarter when Sprouse threw a 13-yard touchdown to Newsome on fourth-and-7. The touchdown capped off a five play, 39 yard drive. Sprouse finished the game 15 of 22 for 285 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’ve gotten better in the passing game,” Berck said of Sprouse’s stellar performance. “Grayson has done a great job leading us. He’ll make a mistake now and then, but he does a great job learning from it.”
The Eagles had a chance to add to take the lead just before the half, but a Jonah Pozniak’s 28-yard field goal sailed wide right.
After failing to score at the end of the first half, Summit Christian wasted no time doing so to open the third quarter as junior running back Lucas Eckles scored his first touchdown of the game on a 19-yard run.
Eckles found pay dirt a second time with 2 minutes, 48 seconds left in the third, as he broke three tackles on his way to 29-yard touchdown.
With the win, Summit Christian will travel to Lathrop to take on the Mules (12-0), in the Class 2 quarterfinals. The Mules defeated Maryville 29-28 on a last-second touchdown.