Hope Christian Eagles head to playoffs after win

Published 11:46 pm Friday, October 16, 2015

Ethan Stewart, 3, powers in for to score a touchdown for the Hope Christian Eagles. (For the reporter / Twanna Arnold)

Ethan Stewart, 3, powers in for to score a touchdown for the Hope Christian Eagles. (For the reporter / Twanna Arnold)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM— After taking home its second win of the season, the Hope Christian Eagles will have another shot against Evangel in two weeks at the playoffs. The Eagles downed Lyman Ward Military Academy 30-27 in a hard fought battle Oct. 16.

“They played their hearts out. I saw the best defensive effort I have seen all season,” said Hope head coach Tony Nafe. “We did a lot of substituting. Offense was really firing well. We’re an extremely young team. We are going to have almost everybody back next year. I see great things in the future.”

The Eagles passed for 100 yards and rushed for 235. Ethan Stewart contributed 137 yards rushing and led the team defensively with 15 tackles, one sac and two fumble recoveries.

Nick Adams, who received for 27 yards and two touchdowns, also had 10 tackles for the night.

Leading offensively was Hope’s freshman quarterback Colin Kirkpatrick, who was 13 for 27 and 100 yards with 43 yards rushing. Seth Machen rushed for 20 yards and a touchdown and had 19 yards receiving, followed by Chance Washburn, who received for 28 yards.

Lyman was the first to score on their first play in the first quarter, but the Eagles were able to hold them into the second. A touchdown and a two-point conversion gave Hope the lead 8-7.

Lyman answered with a touchdown of its own, but was unable to score the two extra points. Going into the second half, Lyman led Hope 13-8, and scored again with a two-point conversion.

Not willing to go down without a fight, Hope also scored with a two-point conversion, putting the score at 21-16 with the Eagles trailing Lyman. Hope scored again in the fourth quarter, followed by another score by Lyman. Lyman took the lead 27-22.

With only three minutes left, Hope scored another touchdown and converted the extra points to win the game 30-21.

Nafe said this was a significant win for Hope. He said this win showed his players that Hope has the potential to be a winning football team.

“We’ve struggled all season. We’ve been trying to find our identity,” Nafe said. “When you are 1-7, you’ve got to find any way to get the guys to buy back in, so I met with them at practice on Monday… I said, ‘You know what, we can’t fix our losing record, but we can have fun the rest of the season. If we can’t have fun, we shouldn’t even be out here. What we are going to do on Friday night, we are going to go out and do our best to win, but we are going to have fun playing football.’ And we did.”

This was Hope’s last game in the regular season, but this win did put the Eagles in the playoffs.  They will take on Evangel in two weeks, and then they will play in the National Association of Christian Athletes Invitational Tournament Nov. 11-13.