Unbeaten Evangel spoils CCS Homecoming
By CHRIS MEGGINSON / For the Reporter
COLUMBIANA – Evangel Christian School shut out the Cornerstone Chargers in the second half on Sept. 30 to secure a 32-14 win and improve to 7-0 on the season.
CCS was the toughest 11-man opponent the Evangel Lightning have faced this season, according to ECS Coach Don Murphy.
“It was a great way to start a rivalry … They were extremely well coached. Coach (Tim) Smith had them ready. He knew what we were doing and our weak spots and took advantage of that,” Murphy said. “Our defense came out in the second half and played phenomenal to shut them out. I was very proud of our coaches and our defensive on that.”
CCS took an early 6-0 lead when Jacob Foster picked off Micah Murphy for a 35-yard return and touchdown on the first pass of the game. Murphy later responded with a 14-yard quarterback keeper and PAT to take a 7-6 lead with six minutes to play in the opening quarter.
Cornerstone regained the lead to start the second quarter on a 7-yard touchdown run by Logan Tucker and 2-point run by Jake Blankenship. Tucker finished the night with 113 yards rushing on 16 carries.
CCS was looking to take a two-touchdown lead but Tyler McNamee fumbled at the 1, giving the ball to Evangel. ECS responded to pull within a point, 14-13, on a 1-yard TD run by Brad Baggett and later took the lead, 19-13, with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Baggett from Murphy with 25 seconds left in the first half. McNamee finished the night with 108 yards passing, completing 11-of-14 attempts, and 24 yards rushing.
Both teams were held in check in the third quarter, but Evangel pulled away in the final five minutes. Baggett broke a 66-yard run for a touchdown with 4:49 to play in the game to extend Evangel’s lead to 25-14. Murphy later capped the win with a 14-yard touchdown to Logan Smith and PAT with 1:09 to play. Baggett had more than 180 yards of offense in the game with 23 yards receiving and 165 yards rushing, including 130 in the second half.
“We got to the fourth quarter and I just turned the calling over to Micah and he basically called it from the line. They were basically trying to box him in and we used him as a decoy. Brad and John Lloyd ran the ball up the gut,” Don Murphy said.
Micah Murphy threw for 66 yards and rushed for 116 to lead Evangel.
Foster and Logan Tucker led the CCS defense with seven tackles each, followed by six each from Theo Mangos and Jahnari Chisolm. Blankenship had five stops, while Tucker Johnson and Landon Guy had three each, Guy added a sack and forced fumble.
“It was a heck of a football game. Our kids played their guts out. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Smith. “Our kids played so hard. I hated it for them to lose. It doesn’t hurt us for the playoffs it just hurts our pride a little bit. We’ll regroup and get ready for Evangel out of Montgomery.”
The first-ever meeting between Evangel and CCS carried additional meaning, as CCS has opened its field to Evangel’s use for two home games this season and played a role in establishing the change to allow 8-man football schools to play AISA teams.
“I can’t say enough about Coach (Tim) Smith and the help that they’ve been to us in getting started playing 11-man. He and Tony Naffe (Hope Christian) were basically the ones who got the AISA to let us play, and I can’t tell you how much that meant that he’d do that for us,” Murphy said.
Evangel will return to Cornerstone Friday, Oct. 7 to host Lighthouse Home School in an ECS home game. Cornerstone (4-2) will travel Evangel Christian Academy in Montgomery for an AISA region battle.