Evangel Falls in ACSC State Championship

Published 1:08 am Saturday, November 6, 2021

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By CHRIS MEGGINSON | Special to the Reporter

WETUMPKA – A second quarter rally pushed Ezekiel Academy past Evangel Christian School en route to a 41-36 win in the Alabama Christian Sports Conference 8-man football championship game Nov. 5. Despite the loss, Evangel expects to be one of four teams selected to compete in the National High School 8-man National Championship Tournament in Panama City Beach, Florida, Nov. 12-15.

“This one is going to sting a little bit,” said Tim Smith, Evangel head coach. “It was a very physical game by both teams. I was proud of my kids for not giving up. They fought all the way to the end and kept battling. It was a good hard-fought high school football game, the way a state championship is supposed to be. We’ll go back to work Monday and go down to Panama City Beach next Friday.”

The Lightning jumped out to a 15-0 run with a pair of Eli Whitfield touchdown passes to Christian Chapman in the first quarter. The first was a 7-yard score and 2-point conversion, followed by a 72-yard touchdown pass. Chapman finished with 137 yards receiving.

Ezekiel answered with a 40-yard touchdown, and Evangel answered with a 7-yard Judah Thompson touchdown catch to go up 22-7. However, Ezekiel scored 21-straight to close the half with a 28-22 lead, including touchdowns of 70 and 48 yards. The Knights capitalized on an Evangel fumble early in the third quarter to expand their lead, 35-22.

Hunter Atkins, who rushed for 113 yards on 17 carries, scored a 7-yard touchdown to make it 35-29. Ezekiel put the game away in the fourth quarter when it scored with a 34-yard pass on fourth-and-15 to stretch its lead to 41-29. Atkins punched in a 1-yard touchdown with 1:20 to play but the Lightning was unable to recover the onside kick.

Whitfield finished the night with 366 yards on 21-of-42 passing. Thompson was his leading target with 208 yards on 12 receptions.

Harris Black led Evangel’s defense with 11 tackles, while Kaden Jones and Everson Jones each had seven tackles. ECS forced three turnovers, two interceptions by Chapman and a Kaden Jones-forced fumble, recovered by Thomas Koch.

Seeding and game times for the 8-man National Championship will be announced by Sunday, Nov. 7.