Third-ranked Evangel beats No. 2 Tennessee Heat

By CHRIS MEGGINSON | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – Four days prior to their first-ever meeting, Evangel Christian School was leapt in the National High School 8-man rankings by Tennessee Heat, as the Lightning fell to No. 3 on the national stage. On Thursday, Oct. 8, Evangel decided it on the field, beating the Heat 67-53.

“After we lost to Ezekiel, to come back and beat a team as good as this team was a good win for us. We had a good week at practice and were focused, they were excited,” said ECS head coach Tim Smith.

With quarterback Eli Whitfield out, Jett Lodge moved from receiver to quarterback and took over the game, accounting for all 10 Lightning touchdowns 579 yards total offense. He carried the ball 30 times for 347 yards, including seven touchdowns, while completing 17-of-28 passes for 232 yards and three scores.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve seen some good performances, but this guy was special tonight,” Smith said. “Jett got all the reps all week and it made all the difference, especially in his leadership. He was not going to let us lose.”

After the Nashville-based Heat scored on an 8-yard run to take a 6-0 lead, Lodge scored from 17 yards out, followed by a Lucas Mast PAT to put Evangel in front, 7-6. Mast was 7-of-10 on PATs during the night.

The Heat and Lightning traded scores early in the second quarter. After falling behind 14-7, Lodge broke a 65-yard run, followed by a 40-yard halfback pass by the Heat. Trailing 20-14, Lodge then took over, rushing for touchdowns of 7 and 27 yards, and then connecting with Bradley Davis on a 37-yard touchdown to take a 34-20 lead. The Heat scored with 20 seconds left in the first half to make it a seven-point difference at halftime, 34-27.

Lodge extended Evangel’s lead in the third quarter with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Harris Black, followed by a 5-yard touchdown run to go up by 21 points, 48-27. Tennessee added a 30-yard run in the middle of the third, but Lodge hit Davis from 46 yards out, and then broke a 67-yard touchdown.

Evangel allowed three-straight big-play touchdowns by the Heat in the fourth quarter before Lodge capped the scoring with an 18-yard TD pass to Davis to lead 67-53. Davis finished the night with 136 yards on nine catches and two TDs.

In addition to Davis, Timothy Howard had three catches for 51 yards, freshman
Hayden Black caught his first pass of the year for 17 yards and Harris Black had 11 yards on three catches. He also helped seal the win with an interception on the Heat’s final drive

Howard led the defense with nine tackles and three pass break ups. Dylan Weathers had eight tackles, first-time starter Thomas Koch had seven stops and Kyle Jones recovered two fumbles. Defensive end Riley Mason had four tackles.

Evangel (6-1) will host the Freedom Cowboys on Oct. 16 for Homecoming. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.