Evangel remains unbeaten through Week 4 

Published 10:49 pm Friday, September 1, 2023

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By CHRIS MEGGINSON | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – Evangel Christian School used a 44-0 first half to cruise to a 52-12 victory over Southern Prep Academy and a 4-0 start Friday night in 8-man football. Rushing for 253 yards as a team and with a hot clock for more than half of the game, ECS closed the book on the Fighting Rangers in less than two hours.

“We knew we were a little better than them. We knew we should come out and get started fast, and that’s what we did,” ECS head coach Tim Smith said. “Our defense is so scrappy. They just get after you from the first snap, and they were wide open tonight.”

Caeleb Austin set the tone for Evangel with a 49-yard touchdown run up the middle on the Lightning’s first possession. Will Welch ran in the two-point play. Moments later, Welch took an option pitch and strolled 15 yards into the end zone. Austin punched in the 2-point conversion for a 16-0 lead with only 2:07 used on the game clock. Austin led ECS with 59 yards on two carries.

It was 24-0 after one quarter of action. Colton Dorough broke a 25-yard run to get the Lightning in striking distance once more. On third down, Kemp Swords hit Zion Thompson on a 10-yard touchdown pass, followed by a two-point pass to Welch. They were two of the few passes thrown by Swords on the rainy night.

Dorough opened the second quarter with a two-yard TD run followed and Grady Watkins added a two-point conversion catch. The defense posted a quick turnover on downs inside the Southern Prep 10-yard line, setting up a six-yard Swords to Welch TD pass. Swords and Welch also had 53 and 47 yards rushing, respectively. Thompson closed the first half with a 35-yard pick six to make it 44-0 and finished with two interceptions in the game.

Freshman quarterback Eli Black took over the offense in the second half and extended the ECS lead with a 26-yard QB keeper in the third quarter. Joshua Looman scored the two-point play to extend the Lightning lead to 52-0. Black had 34 yards rushing on his two carries.

The Lightning defensive starters shut out the Rangers, who did not score until the fourth quarter against the reserves.

Kevin Mason helped Southern Prep score two fourth quarter touchdowns. The Rangers quarterback connected with Kendarian Robinson on a 33-yard pass down to the Lightning one-yard line before finding the end zone on a one-yard QB draw. With 45 seconds left, Mason hit Caiden Jackson for a 41-yard touchdown on the final play of the game.

Clay Stanton, who delivered the hurry on the pick six, led Evangel with six tackles. Hayden Black and JT Curran each had five tackles, while Nick Cloud had four stops.

Evangel (4-0) will host the Carolina Wildcats from Pickens, South Carolina next Friday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.