Cornerstone falls in AISA Class 1A semifinals

For the second straight season, Cornerstone Christian School traveled to Patrician Academy in Butler for a matchup in the Alabama Independent Schools Association Class 1A playoffs.

For the second straight season, Patrician Academy ended the Chargers’ hope for a Class 1A state championship, this time by a final score of 40-28 Friday night.

Cornerstone fell behind early, but Chargers’ head coach Tim Smith said he was proud of how his team never gave up.

“I’m very proud of how hard we fought,” Smith said. “They just kept fighting. They never quit.”

The Cornerstone defense held tough in the first quarter, but the offense could get very little going as the Chargers (9-2) trailed 6-0 at the end of the quarter.

Things went downhill in a hurry in the second quarter as Patrician’s offense got rolling, scoring 20 second quarter points to take a 26-0 lead at the half.

Patrician would keep scoring in the third quarter, as they built a 40-0 lead over the Chargers.

The Chargers got their first score of the night in the third quarter when LaDarius King scored on a 5-yard rushing touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good and left Cornerstone trailing 40-6 going into the fourth quarter.

Cornerstone’s defense would put the next points on the scoreboard for the Chargers, as J.V. McKinney intercepted a pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown. The two-point attempt was no good, as Cornerstone cut the deficit to 40-12.

Cornerstone’s offense would put together two quick scores to make things interesting. Lance Benton hooked up with J.V. McKinney for an 80-yard touchdown reception. Benton rushed into the end zone for the two-point conversion to bring the Chargers to within 40-20.

After a defensive stand, Cornerstone’s offense would get back to work in a hurry, as Benton found McKinney again, this time for a 50-yard touchdown pass. Benton rushed in for the two-point conversion once again to make the score 40-28.

The Chargers were not able to get any closer, as Patrician was able to recover the onside kick and run out the clock.

“We really thought we had it,” Smith said. “We recovered it, but (the officials) said it didn’t go 10 yards. They said it went nine and a half.”

Lance Benton led the Chargers’ offense with two passing touchdowns. J.V. McKinney finished with two touchdown receptions. LaDarius King would led the rushing attack with a touchdown.

Defensively, J.V. McKinney returned an interception for a touchdown.

Cornerstone advanced to the Class 1A playoffs for the third straight season in 2009.

Smith said his players were disappointed they couldn’t cap the season with a trip to Troy for the Class 1A championship game, but they didn’t have any reason to hang their heads. Smith said the group, which included a lot of Shelby Academy transfers, stuck together and had a great season.

“They wanted to go to Troy,” Smith said. “We all did. But it’s been fun to watch them come together and play together. It’s been a great year.”