NORCROSS -- For one quarter, it looked as if Greater Atlanta Christian would be in a tight season-opening contest against Columbia. But the Spartans scored three times within the span of 1:38 in the second quarter and ran away from the Eagles in a 42-7 victory.
The game, the first at GAC for head coach Tim Cokely was also the Spartans' Senior Night and dedication of Reynolds Field.
"This is not about me," Cokely said. "It's about the team. The defensive staff had us prepared. It was a great night for our program."
The scoring started early for GAC (1-0) as David McTier found Zach Strickland for 33 yards on a halfback pass. Eight plays later, quarterback Jared Chapple snuck the ball into the end zone from one yard out for the Spartans' first touchdown. Matthew Carothers' kick gave GAC a 7-0 lead.
Late in the first quarter, the Spartans went to the air again to begin a drive as Chapple found Clay Metzger open for 51 yards. Four plays later, David Harber scored from three yards out. Carothers' kick made it 14-0 with 10:50 left.
From there, the Spartans owned the game. After recovering an onside kick, McTier found Kaliff Raymond open down the field on the first play for 37 yards and a touchdown.
Then, after forcing the Eagles to a three-and-out on the next series, the Spartans' Patrick Corley recovered a fumble on the punt attempt in the end zone, and just like that, the Spartans were up by four touchdowns.
"We worked hard all offseason," Corley said. "We set records in the weight room. We wanted this game to be a statement."
The Eagles (0-1) answered on the ensuing kickoff as D.J. Jones had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to get the Eagles' their first score of the season.
However, the happiness wouldn't last long for Columbia as GAC scored again late in the second quarter. McTier completed his second touchdown pass of the evening, this time to Corley for 53 yards. The extra point gave the Spartans a 35-7 lead, which they took into halftime.
The second half saw the Spartans get one more score, Kyle Scales found paydirt from two yards out, on a nine-play, 53-yard drive, which would be the last score of the game as the fourth quarter went to a running clock.
"There was a bit of emotion early for us, but we're looking for execution," Cokely said. "This is what we worked for all summer."
McTier finished the night 6-for-7 through the air with 132 yards and two touchdowns, while Chapple was 2-for-2 for 64 yards. Tyler Rickman led the Spartans' rushing game with 49 yards on nine carries. Scales finished with 30 yards on 11 carries. Strickland was the leading receiver with 56 yards and three catches.
Derrick McQueen paced the Eagles with 102 total yards.