Pittman improves, but Christian Liberty falls to Hope Academy

Before the start of the season, Christian Liberty's James Pittman had not played quarterback since his freshman year.

Pittman, who sat out last season after he transferred to CLA from Palatine, had been slow to make the transition in the Chargers' first two games.

But the senior made huge strides Saturday in Arlington Heights.

He ran for 3 touchdowns and threw for one and a conversion pass. But his efforts and that of his teammates were not enough as CLA fell to Hope Academy 65-26.

"James started to listen today and do the things we asked him to do," Chargers coach Dave Daniels said. "The first two games he was like a deer in the headlights. The speed of the game was overwhelming to him. But today it slowed down a little bit and he made some plays."

It was tough going for CLA (0-3, 0-3) against Hope Academy, which was ranked in the top 10 in the state in Class 1A.

The Chargers fielded just 16 players to battle a team that rolled past them 82-0 a year ago.

"I don't think anyone goes with 16 kids but us," said Daniels, who lost running back Diego Cardenas early in the second quarter to an injury. "It is a tough spot and we are trying to build something here. The kids understand that and play hard all the way through."

Hope Academy (3-0 3-0) roared out to a 52-0 lead midway through the second quarter when Pittman and the Chargers began to find their way offensively.

Pittman, who was 26-of-61 for 213 yards, busted off scoring runs of 24 and 12 yards and threw a conversion pass to Steve Ringstrand to make it 52-14 at the half.

Despite a huge rush throughout the game, Pittman stood tall.

He connected with a sweet 45-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Schiller in the third quarter as CLA closed to 59-20.

The Chargers finally succumbed to the running clock as Hope scored a pair of touchdowns to lead 65-20.

But Pittman drove the Chargers down the field at the end of the game, scoring on a 4-yard run with seven seconds to play.

"It was good out there for myself and my teammates," Pittman said. "There was a lot of improvement. It was fun playing with my boys here. It is great being out here with all of them."

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