Lightning strikes twice on Hope

Time ran out on the Hope Christian School Eagles Friday night, as Hunter Burridge’s two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the game proved to be the difference in Evangel Christian’s win over their cross-town rival, 32-26.

The Eagles (1-2) scored as time expired in the game, but the damage had already been done.

“We made a few mistakes that cost us the game,” Hope head coach Mark Rettig said. “But I was extremely proud of the whole team, the way they fought and their resolve to not quit.”

The win was the second for the Lightning in a series that began last year between the two schools that split several years ago.

Rettig said if things pan out this season, the two teams could end up facing each other again in the NACA championships.

“I think with the right combination, we might get our stripe back,” Rettig said. “But we have to earn our stripe.”

Evangel head coach Wayne Price also said the rivalry is good for both teams.

“Competition breeds success,” Price said. “It’s like having Auburn and Alabama out here, and what’s good for one school is good for the other.”

The game began in a similar manner that it ended, as Evangel (2-1) jumped on top 8-0 with a 1-yard touchdown run by Burridge, followed by the conversion run by Jakan Sylestine.

After forcing Hope to punt, the Eagles got the momentum back when Sylestine fumbled on Evangel’s ensuing possession and Glyn Glover recovered.

Evangel’s defense stood tall on the next possession, forcing a turnover on downs.

The Lightning could not move the ball on the next possession, and the Eagles went to work as quarterback Zac Hughes scrambled 73 yards to put Hope on the board.

The conversion pass failed, and the Eagles would spend the rest of the night chasing those two points.

After swapping possessions, the Lightning hit the end zone again when Sylestine connected with Michael Entrekin for the 57-yard touchdown pass to go up 14-6 after the failed conversion.

The Eagles refused to quit and pulled the game back to within two points with eight seconds remaining when Hughes took the ball in from 1 yard out to close out the half 14-12.

Burridge added his second touchdown of the game at the beginning of the third quarter on a 5-yard run to increase the Lightning’s lead to 20-12 after the failed conversion.

In a strange series of events, the two teams turned the ball over the next five possessions, starting with an interception by Auston Sullivan on Hope’s Luke Mahan.

Mahan returned the favor when he intercepted Sylestine’s pass, but the Lightning got the ball right back when the Eagles fumbled a pitch and Entrekin recovered.

The Eagles forced the Lightning to punt on the next possession, but Glover fumbled the punt and Sylestine recovered.

Evangel’s good news didn’t last long, as Sylestine fumbled and Caleb Rettig recovered.

The Eagles marched right down the field and Mahan took the ball in from 1-yard out and added the conversion run to tie the game up, 20-20, with just under six minutes remaining.

Although the Eagles’ score would be the final points before the game-ending touchdown, Burridge’s touchdown runs of 1 and 17 yards to put the game away for the Lightning in the final minutes.

Offensively for Hope, the Eagles had 146 yards rushing and 174 yards passing for a total of 320 yards

Defensively, Karry Jones had a team-high 14 tackles, including six for a loss. Rettig was next for the Eagles with 12 tackles, followed by Jacob Medders with 11 tackles and Andrew Whitson with eight.

The Eagles will travel to Praise Christian (Ga.) Sept. 18, while the Lightning will travel to Flint Hill.

Kickoff for Friday night’s games is set for 7 p.m.