LILBURN — The Lions started with a roar but ended with a whimper as they hit the road to get blown away by the Providence Christian Storm in the season opener, 40-10.

The Lions started with a bang, forcing a fumble on the opening return by Providence to start at the Storm's 17. A couple of dropped passes ultimately led LCA to settle for a 38-yard field goal by Andrew Wengryn to take an early 3-0 lead.

The Storm surged back on the ensuing drive, converting a fourth-and-11 to extend a possession that reached the Lions 30-yard line before a fumble returned the ball to LCA control at the 18.

A sack forced the Lions to punt, however, and the Storm raced down the field for a touchdown on the return, only for a helmet-to-helmet hit to reverse the score.

It hardly mattered. The Storm pushed methodically down the field, finally scoring on a 15-yard touchdown dash. Providence failed to convert a 2-point try, leaving them up 6-3 just before the end of the first quarter. 

After LCA punted after a retreating drive plagued by penalties and sacks, the Storm scored on an inexplicable play, a 64-yard jump ball that wobbled into a receiver’s arms who then rambled into the end zone.

The 2-point try was good for a 14-3 score.

LCA went three-and-out, setting up another long drive by Providence, which marched down the field to score on a 6-yard pass just before halftime. 

The Lions finally found some momentum again coming out of the locker room, scoring on a 74-yard pass from Joshua Ruder to Kaden Reid. The kick was good to narrow the Storm lead to 10.

The LCA defense remained porous, however, allowing the Storm to drive down to the 9. But the Lions finally stiffened the line and finally forced the ball over on downs to regain possession. 

Yet the Lions could only go three-and-out, punting after no gain to set up another Storm drive, culminating in a 14-yard touchdown run. 

After another defunct Lions possession, Providence wasted little time scoring again, rushing 71 yards for another touchdown. The 2-point conversion was good for a 34-10 lead.

The teams went quiet after that, punting or simply turning it over on downs. 

With less than four minutes left, LCA tried to mount one last drive, completing a few long passes, despite drops and sacks, to reach the red zone once more. But with time short and downs running out, they tried to settle for a 34-yard field goal, only to watch it sail wide.

The Storm then chose to rub salt in the wound, running the ball near the length of the field for a responding touchdown. They knelt on the conversion try rather than widen the divide even further.

With less than a minute left, the Lions accepted a facemask penalty to reach near midfield, but ran out the clock with one rushing attempt.

The Lions will open at home next week against Bethlehem Academy.

News Editor

Stephen Milligan is the news editor of The Walton Tribune. He lives in Monroe and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.

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