Evangel handles Freedom in national title game rematch

Published 1:40 am Saturday, September 16, 2023

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By CHRIS MEGGINSON | Special to the Reporter

HUNTSVILLE – Playing on a 100-yard field for only the second time this season did not stifle Evangel Christian School’s high-scoring offense on Friday night.

Kemp Swords hit Zion Thompson on an 87-yard touchdown pass to start the game, and the Lightning didn’t let up in a 50-20 road victory at Freedom Academy to move to 6-0 on the season.

It was the 12th win for ECS against Freedom in the 21st meeting of the oldest 8-man football rivalry in Alabama.

“It’s a good win for us,” ECS head coach Tim Smith said. “It’s a long trip up here. The guys were focused and ready to play. We had a good week of practice. We told them last week after the Carolina game, this is when the season really starts. Now we have our big conference game against Lighthouse at our place. It should be No. 1 in the country versus No. 3. We’re both undefeated.”

Swords collected 375 yards of total offense, including 297 yards on 10-of-14 passing and 78 rushing yards on six carries. He threw four touchdown passes and ran in two.

Evangel took a 16-0 lead in the first quarter on a 63-yard interception return by Caleb Austin, who also had six tackles on defense.

Swords found Clay Stanton on a 45-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter before Freedom scored its first touchdown with a 13-yard pass.

Swords aired it out once more with a 65-yard TD to Thompson to give the Lightning a 32-8 halftime lead.

Stanton opened the second half with a 61-yard touchdown catch from Swords. The quarterback later broke a 62-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and scored on a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Freedom added two late touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make it a 30-point game.

Stanton and Thompson led Evangel in receiving and defense. Stanton had 114 yards on two TD catches and led the defense with 11 tackles, including three for a loss and a sack. Thompson had an ECS-best 152 yards on two TD catches and intercepted four passes on defense.

Hayden Black and Cole Romano each had eight tackles, while Reed Castleberry and Josh Looman had five tackles each.

Evangel improves to 6-0 and will return home to Clayton-O’Neal Field on Sept. 22 to host Lighthouse HomeSchool of Oneonta in conference action.