The Holy Ground Baptist Academy football team closed out its 2017 campaign with an 83-42 victory over CrossPointe Christian in the first-ever GICAA Championship Bowl, pitting the Division I state champion Cavaliers against the Division II champion Stallions on Friday night in Roopville.
Holy Ground (12-0) won the previous meeting this season in a 54-30 decision, but the host squad ran away with the 41-point romp in the second showdown against the Cavaliers (11-3) to determine the overall GICAA champion.
The visitors were able to hang tight with Holy Ground during the first half, trailing just 38-36 before the Stallions got two late scores for the 52-36 halftime advantage.
HG senior fullback Chris Organ had a monster night on the ground, rushing for a game-high 327 yards and five touchdowns on 16 carries to go along with a touchdown reception.
“It’s crazy to know that my football career is over with Holy Ground,” Organ said. “I’ve loved every minute and couldn’t have asked for a better team to play with.”
Brock Wright, Eli Horsley and T. Kirby Kilgore led the offensive line for the Stallions. Wright, who played with bruised ribs most of the night, gave the Cavalier defense a lot to handle.
“It felt great playing my last game as Stallion,” Wright said. “Going out on top, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I’m going to miss the fellowship with my brothers more than anything else. It’s been a great run."
The opening stage of the game proved to be a see-saw affair, with the Stallions scoring on a one-yard touchdown run by Jackson Yates, while the Cavaliers answered when a 55-yard pass from Logan Payne to D.J. Brooks set up a five-yard touchdown run by Braden Stahl.
Brady Yates put HG back ahead on a 35-yard touchdown run, but the junior standout was injured on the play and forced to leave the game with Organ taking over at his fullback slot.
After the Cavaliers answered again for the 16-14 edge, Organ ripped off a 53-yard touchdown run for the 20-16 Stallion lead.
The two teams swapped a pair of scores with Payne hooking up with Stahl on back-to-back touchdown passes, while Jackson Yates connected with Organ on a 30-yard touchdown pass and the senior also ran in a 15-yard touchdown to cap off a 55-yard drive and put the Stallions back up 32-28.
Holy Ground closed the half on a strong note behind touchdown runs of 46 and 30 yards by Organ and a 20-yard Jackson Yates touchdown on the heels of his interception for the 16-point halftime advantage.
The second half was all Stallions, as the defense forced a punt and Jackson Yates scored on a 10-yard run. Yates found Organ for the conversion, making it 60-36.
The Stallion defense forced another Cavalier punt and took over at their own 15. Jackson Yates ran to the Cavalier 17-yard line, setting up his touchdown run two plays later.
Jonathan Smith intercepted a Payne pass at the Stallion 31-yard line, setting up another Organ touchdown run. Jackson Yates found Ethan Butler in the end zone for the conversion.
The Cavs scored again on a Payne to Stahl touchdown pass, cutting the deficit to 76-42, but Isaiah Rice closed out the scoring on a six-yard run for the final 41-point margin.
Holy Ground defensive coordinator Bart Gillespe praised the Stallion defense after holding CrossPointe to just one second-half score. Jackson Yates had 10 tackles, an interception and sack to lead the defensive charge.
“I am so proud of our guys. It was a total team effort," Gillespe said. "Defensively, we were able to make some adjustments in the second half. The months and months of hard work paid off (Friday)."
Holy Ground head coach Jamie Perry was especially proud of his team for a second straight undefeated, state championship season.
"What a year," Perry said. “This was the first game all year our guys were really challenged, and they answered. We really found out a lot about our team (Friday).”
Perry has now navigated the Stallions to three state championships in the past four years and two undefeated seasons.
The Stallions only have three seniors on the team, as Organ and Wright have played for Holy Ground since middle school.
“I’m really proud of our or seniors,” Perry said. “They hold some of the best records our school will probably ever see. They have left some big shoes to fill by these younger guys. This was a great team win."