NORCROSS - The Greater Atlanta Christian administrators decided to move this year's homecoming festivities from basketball season, where it had been conducted since the school opened, to football season.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, it wasn't enough inspiration to prevent a sixth consecutive loss.
Decatur proved to have too much speed, size and experience for the Spartans, scored the first 35 points of the game and rolled to a 42-14 victory on Friday night.
"I felt like we had a good week of work and had a good plan," said GAC coach Ken Robinson. "But we came out and did things to hurt ourselves."
GAC (0-6, 0-3) managed to get little going on offense until the fourth quarter, by which time the score dictated the introduction of a running clock. Senior quarterback Beaux Herbert engineered two scoring drives, completing a pair of touchdown passes to Taylor Bruner in the final period. Hebert finished the night with 14 completions in 29 attempts for 162 yards. Bruner caught five passes for 98 yards and touchdown passes of 5 and 9 yards.
But Hebert was sacked four times by the speedy and aggressive Decatur defense, which took advantage of a young and undersized GAC offensive line.
"We've got to try to protect him better," Robinson said. "It's been a staple of the game forever, you've got to be able to block and tackle. It's no secret that you have to do that to have a chance."
There was little blocking for the GAC running game, which was limited to 20 yards once the sack yardage is factored in. Kyle Scales rushed 15 times for 30 yards, the longest a 12-yard gain.
GAC especially had trouble in the red zone, with the trouble starting in the second period after Kaliff Raymond returned a kickoff 63 yards to the Decatur 27. GAC got it to the 12 on a 15-yard completion from Hebert to Julian Horton. The offense staggered and appeared to be facing fourth-and-12, only to get a reprieve on a roughing-the-passer penalty.
That first down set up the Spartans at the 6, where they failed to punch it in and appeared to be facing fourth-and-goal from the 3. This time GAC got a fresh set of downs thanks to a personal foul on Decatur, which put the Spartans at the 2.
But the good fortune was not to be enjoyed. On second down, fullback Stephen Harber was pushed back and separated from the football. Decatur's Quendarius Hall recovered the loose ball to end the GAC threat. Two other times GAC threatened, but turned it over on downs once and lost a fumble on the other.
"It was similar to last week," Robinson said. "We were inside the 10 several times and weren't able to get it in. You can't do that and expect to win."
But GAC could talk some consolation in the fact that it didn't phone in the second half. The effort was there and Decatur, playing its first unit, managed just one additional touchdown.
"I never questioned their effort," Robinson said. "We've got to coach them to protect the ball and when you get a chance to make a play, you've got to make apply. It's tough, but we'll refocus and try to get better."
Decatur (4-2, 2-1) was led by Quendarius Hall, who rushed 14 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Trumon Jefferson, who completed 8 of 13 passes for 126 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 26 yards.