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Davila guides Lions to win

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

NORCROSS -- Christian Davila did it all Thursday night.

The new Hebron Christian quarterback passed for three touchdowns and ran for two others -- having a hand in all five of his team's touchdowns -- as the Lions beat visiting Prince Avenue Christian 35-13 in both teams' season openers at Greater Atlanta Christian.

Davila, whose 2,083 yards and 18 touchdowns passing last year for Winder-Barrow came via more completions than any Gwinnett quarterback, wasted little time proving his worth at his new Dacula school.

His start was somewhat unlucky, however, as his initial pass on the first play of the game was intercepted. He shook that off and quickly found his rhythm, tallying 123 yards and a touchdown aerially by halftime and 238 with the three TDs on the night.

"It was the worst start to a season you could ever have," said Lions coach Brian Smith. "But he shook it off personally and we shook it off as a team."

Completing 14 of 18 passes, Davila's favorite receiver became Nick Bates, who had five catches for 171 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown bomb up the right sideline early and a nearly identical 77-yarder that brought the Lions to Prince Avenue's 14-yard line and set up Hebron's penultimate score.

"He's going to look to me for that deep ball," Bates said. "We work on that a lot on our own outside of practice. We're really on the same page with that (sideline route)."

A prolific passer whose yards last season would have been second-best in Gwinnett, Davila proved himself an agile runner Thursday as well. He scored on a 5-yard run to put the Lions ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter, then on a 4-yarder to put Hebron up 21-13 just before halftime. The runs capped 76- and 61-yard drives and bookended his first long scoring pass to Bates 6:41 before halftime.

At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Davila said the secret to his improved running was gaining 20 pounds since last season.

"Now that I'm a little beefier," he said, "I know I can run without getting hurt."

The Wolverines (0-1) kept pace with the Lions (1-0) through most of the first half, tying the game 7-7 on William McNeely's 13-yard pass from Carl Mattox 9:49 before halftime and coming within 14-13 on McNeely's 29-yard run up the left sideline, before an extra-point kick failed.

But Prince's two serious scoring threats in the second half were stymied -- one on Matthew Pursell's fumble recovery on Hebron's own 9 and another on John Foley's punt block not long after Davila's second TD pass.