By Bob Putnam, Staff Writer; Saturday, September 10, 2016 1:44am
TAMPA — Before Cambridge Christian’s Andrew Cunningham became an electrifying running back, he played basketball on a star-studded AAU team.
On Friday night, the junior played in a game that resembled basketball — at least in points.
In a wild shootout, the Lancers outlasted Indian Rocks Christian in an 85-46 victory. The 85 points Cambridge Christian scored set a school record and were more than the basketball team scored in any game last season.
There were 12 touchdowns — by the Lancers alone. They racked up 776 yards of offense — 574 on the ground. Cunningham did most of the damage with 205 yards rushing, 12 receiving and five touchdowns.
“It’s the most bizarre game I’ve ever been a part of in my entie life,” Lancers coach Bob Dare said. “To go up that big and then to have to battle back and forth was just something I’ve never seen like that before.”
In the first quarter, it appeared the game would be a rout. Cambridge jumped out to a 30-0 lead and was one score from a running clock when the Golden Eagles made a furious rally.
Indian Rocks Christian (1-2) relied on its running game and special teams to cut the deficit to 37-27 late in the second quarter. Bernard Mitchell scored two rushing touchdowns, and Tyler Brown-Williams returned a blocked punt for a touchdown to ignite the comeback.
From there, it was a flurry of points in the first half as both teams kept trading scores. Jaylin Jackson threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Cunningham for a 57-33 lead with 17 seconds left in the half.
The Golden Eagles still found a way to score with Andrew Roberts throwing a Hail Mary to D’whan Poole on a 37-yard pass with no time remaining to cut it to 57-40 at the half.
The game was delayed in the final two minutes of the first half when IRC’s Peter Owen went down with a neck injury and was taken off on a stretcher. He showed movement and gave a thumbs up to the crowd as he left the field.
Cambridge also had injuries with Caleb Young leaving in the first quarter (knee) and kicker Jacob Enns out with a concussion after the blocked punt.
In the second half, the Lancers used their running game to wear the Golden Eagles down.
Midway through the fourth quarter, backup quarterback Mikal Willeke hit Trevor Strawser on a 43-yard touchdown pass to make it 85-46 — and trigger a running clock.
Otherwise, the points may have continued to pile up.