Though the opening quarter was scoreless, Christian Heritage School exploded for three touchdowns in 210 seconds of game-time during the second quarter Friday and never looked back on their way to a 52-6 win over Trion.
Trion, who came into the game having won five-of-six this season, defeated an injury-depleted Lions squad last year, 26-7, but a full-strength CHS was a different beast Friday.
"We haven't played them when we've been healthy," said Lions coach Jay Poag. "Nobody on our team has beaten Trion, (so) it feels good."
The Lions suffered their first loss of the season last week at Darlington, 29-22, but there was no carryover Friday.
"It was a good bounce-back win after last week," Poag said. "We were hurting, but that game gave us confidence we can play with anyone in the state."
Following a scoreless first quarter, sophomore quarterback Christian Thomas got the Lions on the scoreboard with a 16-yard touchdown run during which he broke tackle attempts from at least half of the Trion defense with 11:09 left in the half.
Thomas knew he'd have opportunities to run against Trion's defense, so "before the game, I was stretching my legs out," he said. "When we spread them out, it's just me (versus) the linebacker, and then it's wide open down the middle."
A swarming Lions defense forced a punt, and Gage Leonard blocked that kick; Ethan Smith recovered it in the end zone to double the CHS lead with 9:21 remaining in the half.
"We had seen something on film, and we thought we could block a punt tonight," Poag said. "That was a big play, because our sideline was electric at that point."
Less than two minutes later, Lester hauled in a pass from Thomas -- a one-handed grab, in fact -- for a 40-yard touchdown, giving the Lions a 21-0 lead with 7:40 left in the half.
Aided by a pair of personal foul penalties on the drive, Trion scored with 11 seconds remaining in the half on a 4-yard run by Rob Brown, but that extra-point attempt was pushed back 15 yards due to a post-score penalty on the road team, and the kick fell short. The Bulldogs then failed to build on any momentum from that late score by punting after three plays on their opening possession of the second half.
Thomas found Lester again, this time in double coverage, for a 47-yard completion, and then Thomas scored from 1 yard out on the next play to extend the lead to 28-6.
"Whenever I throw it up to (Lester), there's a high chance of him catching it," Thomas said. "He just made the play."
The Lions continued to make plays throughout the second half, as Will Brumlow's interception set them up on their own 45, and Leonard eventually scored from 3 yards out with 10:44 left in the game to push the lead to 35-6. Brumlow then recovered a fumble, and Joe Dixon drilled a 47-yard field goal to boost the lead to 32.
Smith found the end zone for a second time with 6:25 left, returning a fumble 47 yards for a touchdown, and then Solomon Locke dashed through the Trion defense for a 74-yard touchdown with 3:45 left that provided the final 46-point margin.
The Lions (5-1, 2-1 in Region 6-A) will be back in action at home next Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Bowdon.