MONROE -- While returning alumni of George Walton Academy warmly renewed old acquaintances on a festive homecoming evening, Hebron Christian invaded Keith Henderson Field in Monroe in search of their first victory of the season. But they received a harsh welcome from the host Bulldogs.
With an offense clicking on all cylinders, George Walton exploded for 38 first half points on their way to a 45-13 victory over the Lions.
"They run the veer which means we have to play assignment football," said Hebron head coach Sal Battaglia, "we've got a young team, and when you blow an assignment against the veer it will hurt you".
Early in the game it appeared the Lions (0-4) would end their winless skid. On the opening drive, Lew Stephens connected with a leaping Tyler Matthews who soared above two Bulldogs defenders to snag a 20 yard touchdown pass and give the Lions a quick 6-0 lead. George Walton (2-1) wasted little time establishing control. On the fourth play of the ensuing drive Bulldogs quarterback Hunter Rice, who rushed for 2 TD's and passed for another, tossed a 14 yard TD to Matt Corder and 7-6 lead with 7:00 remaining in the opening quarter. That was as close as it would get.
On the next Lions possession, Corder intercepted a Stephens pass and returned it to the Hebron 12-yard line. Two plays later Rice plunged into the end zone on an option keeper for a TD and 14-6 Bulldogs lead with 5:16 remaining in the opening quarter.
"Their quarterback is a good athlete," said coach Sal Battaglia of Rice, "he can both run and throw very well."
The Bulldogs pulled away from there. Andrew Bullard added a TD for the Bulldogs on a 17-yard romp, Rice rushed for his second TD on a 9-yard run, and Nick Waters returned an interception 34 yards for a TD. Cole Fisher booted a 34-yard field goal as time expired for a 38-6 George Walton lead at the half.
George Walton's Caleb Scott scored on a 2-yard run in the 3rd quarter to cap the scoring for the Bulldogs. Hebron's Xavier Railey weaved 45 yards for a touchdown midway through the 4th quarter to provide the final margin.
After the promising opening drive, Hebron could not generate any consistency against the stout George Walton defense. Injuries, untimely penalties and 5 costly turnovers didn't help their cause.
"We lost our top two centers after the first drive", said Battaglia, "they both should be okay for next week, but after they were injured we didn't have another snapper ready."
Rice, who did not play in the 2nd half, was 5-for-7 for 71 yards and a TD. He also for ran for 63 yards and 2 TDs on 7 carries to lead the Bulldogs. Hebron was led by Railey who ran for 65 yards on 14 carries and a TD.