The Unity Christian Crusaders won the Division 5 State Championship last year, a remarkable feat. This year, they are aiming to win the title in Division 4 and this goal became one step closer after their play on Friday night. They scored often in this game, on their way to a 45-13 victory over the Sailors of South Christian.
Malekhi Obande got things rolling for Unity with a touchdown on their first drive. He capped off a seventy yard drive with a thirty eight yard run to put the Crusaders ahead by seven. Jackson Bush doubled this lead later in the quarter when he capped off a seven play drive with a one yard touchdown plunge.
Already up by two scores, the Crusaders took the lead to greater heights. After stopping South Christian on downs, Unity went seven plays and covered seventy one yards. Again it was Obande, who went forty four yards for his second touchdown of the day to make it 21-0.
South Christian would cut into the defecit tremendously over their next two drives. Quarterback Chase Bradman found Elliott Grashuis for a ten yard touchdown pass to get the Sailors on the board. After forcing a punt, they would connect again for a score. The sixteen yard touchdown strike made it 21-13 Unity Christian. Right before the half, Grant Balcer connected on a twenty eight yard field goal to extend the Unity Christian lead to 24-13 entering the locker room.
In the second half, it was all Unity Christian. They started with the football, and went on a fourteen play, fifty nine yard march that took up nearly six minutes of game time. Malekhi Obande’s third touchdown of the evening made this an eighteen point game. After forcing a fumble, Unity started their next drive just nineteen yards from the end zone. Isaac TeSlaa capped this short scoring drive off with a seven yard run to make it 38-13 entering the fourth quarter.
In the final quarter of play, Unity Christian again capitalized on a South Christian fumble. This time, sophomore Drew Chandler ran fourteen yards to the end zone for a touchdown to put this game out of reach. The rushing attack played a major part in winning this game for Unity Christian, as they racked up 324 rushing yards as a team. This was led by Obande, who turned sixteen carries into 148 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, their three forced turnovers (one interception and two fumble recoveries) and their turnover on downs created short fields for their offense.
With the victory, Unity Christian has won the district title for the second straight year and the fourth time in five seasons. They will advance to next week’s regional finals where they will take on Paw Paw. This will be a road game for the Crusaders, as they will travel to the host Redskins. Paw Paw is 10-1 on the season, and they advanced to the regionals after defeating Marshall 14-6. Their defense has allowed just 105 points this season, providing a strong challenge for Unity’s explosive offense.