First Presbyterian Christian Academy never gave up the fight, but a strong running game from Robert Toombs Christian Academy, and costly penalties gave the Crusaders a 51-18 win Friday.
The Region 2-AA game was held at Long Bell Stadium in Hinesville.
Highlander coach Terry Middleton said his team made some huge gains on the ground.
Dylan Stewart put FPCA on the scoreboard in the first quarter off a 95-yard kick return. Joshua Armour completed a pass to Jimmy Ouyang, who ran for a 41-yard touchdown. Jamison Golson and Sensier Carnes led the Highlanders in rushing, while Isaiah Dickey and Ouyang racked up receptions.
But Middleton added that the Highlanders missed a few key blocks, and the defense gave up huge gains as well.
Middleton said he was impressed with newcomer Khalyn Weekly, naming him the player of the game.
Weekly, normally seen on the basketball court, played in his first football game Friday and netted seven tackles, according to unofficial stats.
The Crusaders’ swift speed had them up 16-0 before Stewart’s kick-return score.
The visiting team tacked on two more touchdowns to close the first quarter up 31-6.
Ouyang’s catch-and-run closed the gap slightly, but the Crusaders took a 45-12 lead into the half.
FPCA was hit with a series of false starts, forcing a punt that landed short. Toombs kept the momentum and led 51-12 going into the fourth quarter.
Facing a running clock, FPCA started passing the ball, with Stewart making back-to-back receptions. Stewart then kept the ball and ran down the sideline from 20 yards out for the final FPCA touchdown of the night.
Middleton said he knew the Crusaders were a tough team and thought his players played with heart and tenacity.
Highlander Jordan Gilliard sustained a leg injury and Nick Bolton suffered a hand injury, forcing both to go to Liberty Regional Medical Center for evaluation.
The Highlanders have one final regular-season game left next Friday against David Emanuel Academy.
The final home game is set for 7:30 p.m.