Evangel shuts down Lighthouse in top five battle

Published 1:04 am Saturday, September 23, 2023

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By CHRIS MEGGINSON | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – Trailing for the first time this season, Evangel Christian School erased a 14-12 halftime deficit and shut out Lighthouse HomeSchool 28-0 in the second half to win an NHSA top-five battle in 8-man football, 40-14, at home Friday. It was the first loss of the season for Lighthouse (6-1).

“We told them all week it was going to be a dog fight, and it was,” ECS head coach Tim Smith said. “I’m proud of our kids and how hard they played. We knew we’d face adversity. After being down at halftime, the way they responded, I couldn’t be more proud of them. It was a really big win for us. There was a huge crowd tonight. The student section was unbelievable. Our kids fed off of them.”

Evangel scored first, but not as quickly as it was used to during the first six weeks. Colton Dorough’s 23-yard run with 5:05 left to play in the first quarter were the first points of the game to give Evangel a 6-0 lead.

Lighthouse countered each of Evangel’s first-half touchdowns though. Elliott Knowles punched in a 1-yard touchdown with 9:42 to play in the second quarter, followed by a 2-point play to give Evangel its first deficit of the season, 8-6.

Kemp Swords’ 8-yard TD run put ECS back on top, 12-8, but Clay Boatman regained the lead for the Warriors, 14-12, on a 6-yard touchdown with 4:12 to play in the half.

ECS coordinators Hagan Joiner and Clay Romano made adjustments in the second half, shifting Carson Donovan to guard and Nick Cloud to center on the offensive line. Defensively, the Lightning made adjustments against the run.

“Once we stopped their run and made them one-dimensional, it made all the difference,” Smith said.

The second half was typical Lightning football. Swords regained Evangel’s lead, 18-14, on a 3-yard run with 3:10 play in the third quarter.

After a Josh Looman fumble recovery, Clay Stanton turned a fourth-and-4 at the 11 into a first down and then fought off three defenders to the goal line to extend the lead, 24-14, with a minute left in the third quarter.

A safety and good kickoff return set up Dorough’s second touchdown of the night early in the fourth quarter on an 8-yard run and a 32-14 lead. He finished with 97 yards on 11 carries.

Caeleb Austin intercepted a pass to help put the final defensive dagger in the Warriors. Swords put the game away with a 67-yard touchdown run at the five-minute mark in the fourth quarter, before completing a 2-point pass to Cade Joiner. Swords finished with 84 yards rushing and 58 yards passing.

Looman led the defense with 12 tackles, followed by Hayden Black’s 11. Zane Barlow and Cole Romano each had eight stops. Zion Thompson had two interceptions.

Evangel (7-0) will travel to Wetumpka for a conference game against Ezekiel Academy on Sept. 29.