ORLANDO, Fla. – For the better part of three quarters it looked like the Class 2A Championship could go to either University Christian or Champagnat. Down the stretch it was the Christians who pulled off the 24-8 win, clinching their second straight championship.
The first half was marred by penalties and missed opportunities. The Christians were called for 10 penalties for 100 yards in the first half and their only points came on a field goal. That score of 3-0 would hold until the final moments of the third quarter.
Lions punter Daryn Jones shanked a punt that was returned for a 27-yard touchdown by Leon Huey of University Christian. That gave UC a 10-0 lead.
For much of this game it felt like the first team to reach the end-zone would win and that score was all the points the Christians would need. Their defense turned in a defensive performance for the ages. They held the lions to negative 42 rushing yards on 17 attempts.
When the Lions were able to move the ball into scoring range, UC defensive back Dyrell Stubbs responded with a pair of interceptions to keep Champagnat off the board.
With under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, UC head coach David Penland called a fake punt that resulted in a first down. A couple plays later, quarterback Clayton Boyd ran for a 5-yard touchdown that gave UC a 17-0 lead.
Then just for good measure Huey came up with another huge play, this time on the defensive side of the ball. His 49-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown was the icing on the cake as the Christians clinched their ninth state title in school history.
“My coach challenged me and told me to get two touchdowns,” said Huey following the game. “I had to check off 10 touchdowns on the season I was able to do it.”
Huey was part of a defense that held the Lions to 107 yards of offense on 55 plays (1.94 yards per play) and 1-for-12 on third down conversions.
“Our defense has played phenomenal all year long,” said Penland. “We leaned on them a lot and they were ready for the challenge. They accepted it and bailed us out and did what they had to do. This one is pretty special. It’s hard enough to win a state championship, but to do it back-to-back is pretty sweet.”