By Mike Hastings
Christ Presbyterian Academy began this year with a lot of uncertainty, losing the core players that led the team to deep playoff runs for four years. But a new group of stars are beginning to emerge at just the right time for the Lions.
Quarterback Ryan Eledge, who seems to be getting better every week, threw for 161 yards to lead the Lions to a 10-7 comeback victory against a previously unbeaten team from Stratford High School in the first round of the TSSAA Class 3A playoffs.
CPA took the lead in the first quarter when JT Gilbert knocked in a 39-yard field goal.
Neither team could manage must offense the rest of the first half. Stratford seemed determined to shut down CPA senior James Deaton and the Lion running game.
Deaton would manage just 24 yards on 13 carries, and the rest of the Lions found the going just as tough.
The Stratford defense held the Lions to a negative 12 yards total on the ground in 30 carries.
But the Lions’ defense was just as ferocious, holding Stratford scoreless in the first half to give the Lions a 3-0 lead as the teams headed to the locker room.
Stratford would capture the lead in the third quarter, scoring from three yards out to take a 7-3 lead.
But that would be all the Lions would give up in this game, setting the stage for Eledge.
The sophomore quarterback has found a reliable receiver in fellow sophomore Noah Henderson. The pair connected five times for 129 yards to help the Lions move the ball.
After giving up the lead in the third quarter, CPA would take it back for good in the fourth.
Eledge would find Andrew Howard for an 8-yard touchdown to give the Lions the 10-7 margin of victory,
Eledge finished the game 10-21 for 161 yards, with a touchdown and and interception. He also rushed seven times, but was held to -35 yards.
Henderson finished with five catches for 129 yards.
Howard had four receptions including the game-winning touchdown.
The win means the Lions will once again make it to the semifinals. They will travel to Madison to take on host Goodpasture Christian School on Friday.
CPA Beats Undefeated Stratford in Round One