The turnover bug came back to bite Christian Heritage early Friday.
However, the Lions quickly found a cure in Jake Stokes.
Christian Heritage picked up the first win of its GHSA career in the first game at its new stadium with a 55-7 victory against Murray County.
Stokes, a junior running back, scored five touchdowns, including two scores from 61 yards, and rushed for 168 yards total to lead the Lions (1-1).
With the game scoreless, Christian Heritage had the ball in Murray County (0-2) territory on its first drive but had a turnover on downs on fourth and 1. On the next drive, the Lions again were moving the ball but senior end Michael McKinney fumbled the ball after catching an 8-yard pass from junior quarterback Trevor Brown.
The Lions did not turn the ball over again until the end of the third quarter. Last week, it was a different story as Christian Heritage turned the ball over eight times in a 40-16 loss at Model.
“I don’t want to talk about last week,” Lions coach Preston Poag said. “All that stuff was correctable, and we’ve got a good coaching staff. We had a good week of practice and a good gameplan against Murray. We turned it over right there in the (first quarter) but we bounced back and played hard tonight. We had a bunch of guys running the ball hard.”
Christian Heritage racked up 305 yards rushing and another 183 from Brown’s arm. Stokes broke open the scoring with a 61-yard run on a reverse with 11 minutes, 42 seconds left in the first half. He scored again from 6 yards out to give the Lions a 14-0 lead into halftime and then from 61 yards again on the second play of the second half.
“I couldn’t do it without the linemen,” Stokes said. “We had a really good night, especially on the sweeps and the outside runs where it was wide open.”
The Lions got scores from junior fullback Austin Lowe, a 56-yard run, and junior back Brian Pierce, a 2-yard run, before A.J. Hooper intercepted a Justin Smith pass and returned it 34 yards for Christian Heritage’s final score.
On the Murray County side, senior quarterback Brady Todd and the offense did not get much going until the final drive of the first half when they turned the ball over on downs at the Christian Heritage 15 yard line.
“We moved the ball in the first half, and we’ve just got to finish,” Hammond said. “We drove the ball down the field right before halftime with nothing to show for, so we’ve got to learn how to score.”
One thing he was not happy with was his team’s showing in the final 12 minutes, when Christian Heritage scored 27 points to nearly double its half of the scoreboard.
“We got tired in the second half, and I didn’t like our effort in the fourth quarter,” Hammond said. “I’ll take responsibility for that. It was my fault.”
Junior running back Jordan Walls had 78 yards rushing on 16 carries. The Indians tallied 175 yards of offense, with the lone score coming on an 87-yard kick return in the fourth quarter from sophomore Dustin McAllister.
Score By Quarters
Murray County 0 0 0 7 — 7
Christian Heritage 0 14 14 27 — 55
How They Scored
CH — Jake Stokes 61 run (Andrew McEntyre kick), 11:42
CH — Stokes 6 run (McEntyre kick), 6:20
CH — Stokes 61 run (McEntyre kick), 11:14
CH — Stokes 9 run (McEntyre kick), 5:58
CH — Austin Lowe 56 run (McEntyre kick), 11:38
CH — Stokes 20 run (McEntyre kick), 9:15
CH — A.J. Hooper 34 interception (McEntyre kick failed), 6:44
MC — Dustin McAllister 87 kick return (Miguel Barajas kick), 6:27