Evangel advances to ACSC championship with win over East Central

Published 2:27 am Saturday, October 28, 2023

By CHRIS MEGGINSON | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – Evangel Christian School pulled away for a 46-7 win over East Central on Friday to advance to Alabama Christian Schools Conference 8-man state title game against Lighthouse on Nov. 3.

While the Lighting (11-0) usually strike fast, it took until late in the first quarter before Kemp Swords connected with Caeleb Austin for the first touchdown of the game, 7-0. In the final eight minutes of the second quarter, Swords ran in one score, before throwing touchdown passes to Austin, Cade Joiner and Clay Stanton to lead 33-0 at the half.

“It was a good win,” ECS head coach Tim Smith said. “The kids did what we asked them to do once we got going. We were sluggish in the first quarter. (East Central) had a good game plan and slowed it down and ate up the clock. They kept it away from us, and next thing you know, the quarter was almost over.”

Brock Humphrey scored on a 42-yard run in the third quarter, followed by a 14-yard pass from Swords to Austin for their third touchdown connection in the game. Swords finished the night with 186 yards on 13-of-18 passing, while Austin had 45 yards on three catches. The first-year QB now has 1,518 yards passing for the season.

It was 46-0 after three quarters before East Central scored a late fourth-quarter touchdown.

Ten players combined for 154 yards rushing, as Evangel had 340 yards of total offense despite two turnovers. Joshua Looman led the defense with seven tackles. Hayden Black had six and Stanton had five.

Smith hopes the win and preparation for the championship will help his team bounce back from a few slower starts as it prepares to put a 28-game win streak on the line against a Lighthouse (10-1) team that was leading ECS 14-12 late in the third quarter earlier this season. ECS went on to win the game 40-14 on Sept. 22.

“We’ve really struggled since the Franklin game,” Smith said. “I’ve told them we’ve come down off a big win and a big high and hit rock bottom the last few weeks. I think we looked rusty tonight and sluggish at first. If we wait to start that late next week, we’ll get beat. Lighthouse is a very good football team. This should be a really, really good championship game. Hopefully we’ll have a good crowd out there. We’re always excited to host a game at our place. I feel it’s one of the best home-field advantages around.”

Lighthouse advanced to the championship with a 72-46 win over Ezekiel on Friday. The game was close until midway in the fourth quarter.