Evangel drops road game to rival Ezekiel

Published 12:30 am Saturday, October 2, 2021

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By CHRIS MEGGINSON | Special to the Reporter

MONTGOMERY – Second-ranked Evangel Christian School was upset by No. 8 Ezekiel Academy, 41-30, on Oct. 1 in a rematch of the 2020 National High School Tournament 8-Man Football National Championship. It is the second-straight regular season loss for ECS to the Ezekiel Knights, but the Lightning won the postseason meeting last November, 40-13, in the national championship.

This year, Ezekiel opened the game with a 20-0 lead over the Lightning before Hunter Atkins scored on a 1-yard run and Judah Thompson added the 2-point try, making it 20-8. Ezekiel answered, but so did Evangel, cutting the score to 27-16 at the half following a 10-yard touchdown pass from Eli Whitfield to Thompson and an Atkins 2-point run.

“That’s the best we’ve seen them play on every film we’ve seen and we didn’t,” said ECS head coach Tim Smith. “They just hit us in the mouth and we didn’t know how to react at first when we were down 20-0 .. Even when we cut it to 27-22, it just felt like something was off tonight”

Atkins broke a 54-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to pull Evangel within five points, 27-22, through three quarters. Ezekiel scored twice in the fourth to grow its lead to 41-22 before Whitfield threw a 35-yard touchdown to Atkins and Thompson added the 2-point try. Whitfield finished the night with 202 yards on 13-of-29 passing and two touchdowns. While Christian Chapman was the main target with 80 yards on four receptions, Atkins contributed 69 total yards, including 45 receiving.

Defensively, Evangel was led by Dylan Weather’s 11 tackles, while Thomas Koch and Kaden Jones had nine tackles each. Everson Jones added six tackles and a fumble recovery, while Koch had two sacks.

Evangel (6-2, 2-1) will have a week off before traveling to  Nashville to meet the Tennessee Heat on Oct. 15 before facing East Central in a must-win conference game on Oct. 22.

“We’re going to practice for a couple of days and then give them some time off to rest up. It’s a good time for a break for us,” Smith said.