ROSWELL, Ga. — Fellowship Christian is on to the state semifinals for the second time in four years after taking down Hebron Christian, 35-28, Friday night at home. The No. 4 seed Paladins (12-0) compiled nearly 300 rushing yards in the win to take down the No. 12 seed Lions.
Junior running back Murphy Reeves led the rushing attack with 131 yards on the ground with two touchdowns. Freshman Jayven Hall and sophomore Josh Cole combined for three rushing scores with over 50 yards rushing each.
“It feels awesome,” Fellowship head coach Al Morrell said. “I’m super proud of our coaching staff and our players. We’re very excited about this opportunity.”
Fellowship (12-0) received the opening kickoff and wasted no time building a lead. The Paladins ground game led the way with the 68-yard drive capped with a 5-yard touchdown run by Murphy Reeves.
Hebron (8-5) answered on its next drive with Lions running back Donovan Moorer breaking free for a 42-yard touchdown to tie the game.
The defenses settled in after that, forcing a string of punts for both squads. With Hebron driving and threatening to take the lead midway through the second quarter, the Paladins defense came up with a stop on fourth-and-1.
The Paladins took over with the ball at their own 34-yard line and began marching down the field. Freshman running back Jayven Hall took a handoff six yards for a touchdown to give Fellowship the lead late in the half.
On the ensuing drive for Hebron, Fellowship’s defense came up with a game-changing play. Kyle Elphick picked up a fumble and ran all the way down to the Hebron two-yard line.
It only took one play for the Paladins to capitalize, with Hall punching the ball in from two yards out for second score of the night.
Hebron scored the first points of the second half with a 68-yard, 4-minute drive capped off with a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Still up by a score, the Paladins added to their lead with a much-needed touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Josh Cole took the handoff and broke through the Hebron defense for a 38-yard touchdown to put Fellowship ahead, 28-14.
The teams continued to exchange scores in the final period. Hebron scored on tis ensuing drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to cut the margin to 28-21, but Fellowship countered with a 59-yard touchdown rush down the sideline from Reeves.
The Paladins’ breathing room quickly disappeared. The Lions drove down the field in less than a minute and found the end zone with a 10-yard touchdown pass by Colton Gauthier.
The Paladins offense couldn’t get any points on their next drive, giving Hebron a shot to tie the game. The Lions took over on offense at their own 32 with five minutes left on the clock.
Trailing by a touchdown, Hebron faced a fourth-and-8 with 2:47 remaining. Gauthier attempted a deep pass, but the Paladins covered the play well and the pass fell incomplete.
After the turnover on downs, Fellowship converted a first down and ran out the clock in victory formation.
“It was a well-played game by both teams,” Morrell said. “They’re an excellent football team and they have a great quarterback. They had about three or four guys that can all run and catch. Our defense played their hearts out and we made some big plays when we had to. The offense kept pounding and kept scoring. That was the difference in the game.”
Fellowship hosts Wesleyan (11-2) in the next round with the winner advancing to the Class A-Private state championship game. Wesleyan took down No. 1 seed Savannah Christian Day, 42-16, in the quarterfinals. The Dec. 6 matchup will be the first meeting of the schools since 2011.
“It’s always an advantage to play at home,” Morrell said. “We’re excited. I think it’s the first time in Fellowship school history that we host a semifinal game.”