So much for growing pains.
The learning curve has quickly straightened to a line of steady progress in four short weeks for a supposed inexperienced Hilton Head Christian Academy football team.
And suddenly the Eagles are young no more.
Hilton Head Christian defeated SCISAA Class 3-A powerhouse Augusta Christian, 21-7, on Friday night behind a gutsy, powerful performance up front. It marked the first victory in school history against Augusta Christian, and it comes on the heels of the Eagles' win against Thomas Sumter a week earlier to avenge last year's state-championship loss.
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"I knew we would be competing against these teams," senior receiver Alex Martin said. "But the win is a pretty big surprise, actually."
It was an extra special night for Martin, who caught a pair of touchdowns from freshman quarterback Caleb Lewis -- the first broke Jonathan Gort's school record for career receiving scores. With two in Friday's win, Martin stands at 25 touchdowns for his career and eight for the season.
His first touchdown grab came on the opening drive of the game, and it set the tone for the night. The Eagles never trailed and quickly extended their lead to 14-0 when Jamario Williams returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown.
Martin finished with six catches for 104 yards.
"That told us we could play with them," Martin said. "When we took it down on that first drive and scored, we knew we could play."
It was just the boost an energetic defense needed.
The Eagles (3-1) allowed more than 200 rushing yards, including 167 to Lions running back Sean Sweeting, but they stood tall with their backs to the goal line.
The Lions (4-1) scored just once despite marching inside the 20-yard line four times. They fumbled at the Eagles' 1-yard line in the third quarter with a chance to cut the deficit to seven and later failed to score on a drive that reached the 5-yard line.
Eagles safety Brad Meccariello intercepted a pass in the final minute of the first half to preserve a 14-7 lead.
"That's crucial. That's crucial," Lions coach Keith Walton said. "When you get down there, you need to come up with some kind of points. That's a credit to them -- they did a great job."
It was the difference in a game in which the Eagles rushed for just 28 yards on 21 carries, converted only 1 of 11 third-down attempts and completed less than half of their passes.
They won the key battle, though -- turnovers. Hilton Head Christian did not turn the ball over a single time Friday and forced two of them.
"I can't say enough about the guys -- they impressed me tonight," Eagles coach Tommy Lewis said. "I honestly did not think that we had enough to beat a team like Augusta Christian.
"The guys proved me wrong."