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Summit Christian's Sprouse too much for Van Horn

By Michael Smith
Special to The Examiner

The Summit Christian Academy football team has been a thorn in the side of Van Horn in recent years.

That trend continued Friday as the Eagles, behind a stellar performance from quarterback Greyson Sprouse, earned their sixth straight win over the Falcons in a 28-7 victory at William Chrisman High School's Norm James Field.

Sprouse took over the game after running back Lucas Eckles went down with a leg injury in the second quarter. He kept on a variety of option runs and some runs straight up the middle, totaling 137 rushing yards rushing and three touchdowns on 21 carries. Sprouse also threw for 119 yards and one TD, completing 6 of 19 passes.

“He did a good job just leading us,” Summit Christian coach Todd Berck said. “When you lose a big player like Lucas, you just have to leave it on every other player. And Greyson just said, ‘OK, it’s on me now.’ We put him in positions where he could make some reads and get one-on-one with some linebackers.

“He’s our leader. We expect him to do that.”

Van Horn coach William Harris said he was expecting Sprouse to run the ball frequently coming in, but couldn’t find a way to stop him.

“If you stop the run or stop the pass, they just give it to him and let him mash straight ahead,” Harris said. “We knew it was coming and we knew it would be a challenge for us with how big he is. We were getting him down but in the fourth quarter, we just wore down.”

Summit Christian also kept the Van Horn offense in check, allowing just 194 total yards from scrimmage. The Falcons (4-3) only entered the Eagles' red zone two times.

Eckles nearly scored in the first quarter on a run from the Falcons 17, but he was stripped by a Falcons defender at the 1 and Van Horn defensive back Terrell Johnson recovered, thwarting the drive.

However, SCA punched it in when Sprouse converted a fourth-and-goal from the 4, taking an option run up the middle for a 7-0 lead. 

Before the half, the Eagles blocked a punt by Van Horn’s Sean Mitchell and got the ball at the Van Horn 32. Sprouse immediately capitalized when he found senior Griffin Kliewer wide open over the middle for a 32-yard score and a 14-0 advantage that the Eagles held into halftime.

Van Horn came out with more energy in the second half, forced a Summit Christian punt and then moved the ball effectively for the first time. Its first drive of the second half ended with a 4-yard TD run by wide receiver De’Marcus Penson out of the wildcat formation to cut the Summit Christian lead to 14-7.

“I don’t like giving up points,” Berck said. “I am the defensive coordinator, so that frustrates me when we give up the goose egg. But hats off to (the Falcons). They came out fired up and we came out kind of low. We didn’t match their intensity, and they kind of stuck it up our tailpipe there.”

But Sprouse was too much for the Falcons as he connected on a 50-yard pass to Kliewer that set up his 17-yard TD run, and later he scored on a 9-yard jaunt with 10:13 left in the game to ice it.

Van Horn was able to get the ball in the red zone late in the fourth, but the Falcons couldn’t punch it in on a fourth-and-goal from the 5 as Mitchell’s pass was dropped, the Falcons' sixth drop of the game.

“In order to beat a team like that, you can't make mistakes,” Harris said. “I told our guys, we have to play harder than them and we have to be mistake free. We made a few mistakes here and there, and it went the way I thought it would if we make mistakes.

“We dropped a couple over the middle that would have kept drives going, and we don’t have to punt the ball in certain situations. We didn’t come through when we needed to.”

Even in the loss, Harris said he thought his defense improved following last week’s 42-37 win over William Chrisman.

“We’re improving and we’re young,” Harris said. “We don’t have a whole lot of room to get worse; we can only get better playing young kids. I was pleased with the way (the defense) played. We made sure our guys understood their key reads during practice. Eye discipline was key for us, and it paid off. The guys were in the right spots, we just have to work on tackling.”

Mitchell led Van Horn with 86 yards on 14 carries.