Evangel’s dominant stretch continues in 63-28 victory

Published 12:25 am Saturday, September 24, 2022

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By CHRIS MEGGINSON | Special to the Reporter

ONEONTA – With the steady arm of Eli Whitfield and strong running performances by Hunter Atkins and Tyler Wilson, Evangel Christian School cruised to a 63-28 region 8-man victory at Lighthouse Home School on Friday.

Whitfield completed 12-of-17 passes for 269 yards and five touchdowns after opening the night with a 58-yard touchdown to Kyle Jones on the third play.

“Eli played really well tonight. He had a lot of good passes. That’s his best game of the year, because we finally got in a game where we could let him throw it a little bit,” said ECS head coach Tim Smith.

Colton Dorough scored the second ECS touchdown on a 4-yard run. Lighthouse answered with a short touchdown run to cut into the score, 14-6, but 8 answered with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Atkins to lead 21-6 through the first quarter.

The quick start helped ECS to its second region win and a 6-0 start.

“This was a big one. Coming up here to play them at their place is tough. We asked the kids to start fast and they did. They did exactly what we needed them to do, score and score quick,” Smith said.

Whitfield added two more touchdowns early in the second quarter, a 28-yard strike to Judah Thompson and 24-yard TD to Atkins, who had 50 yards on three catches to go along with 125 yards rushing.

Lighthouse scored late in the quarter to make it 35-14 at the half. Whitfield looked to give ECS another score before halftime, but threw an interception in the end zone, the first ECS turnover of the season.

Atkins scored his third touchdown of the game with an 18-yard run early in the third quarter. Wilson, who rushed for 74 yards on two carries, scored from 24 yards out. Thompson, who had 129 receiving yards, followed with a 50-yard TD reception from Whitfield to push the Lightning’s margin to 34 points, 46-14. Lighthouse shined with its largest play of the game on a 40-yard pass before the game rolled into the fourth quarter.

Will Welch was the sixth ECS player to find the end zone on the night, scoring a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Lighthouse added a 30-yard TD pass to close the night.

Hayden Black led the ECS defense with nine tackles and one interception. Grady Watkins had seven tackles and two sacks. Clay Stanton followed with six tackles and an interception, while Kaden Jones also had six stops and Zion Thompson added an interception.

Evangel returns home Sept. 30 to host Ezekiel Academy, which swept ECS in two meetings last season. The Lightning last defeated Ezekiel, 40-13, in November 2020 to win the NHSA 8-man national title in Panama City Beach, Florida.