Evangel showed off its mean streak in yet another dominating, physical performance Friday night at Rodney Duron Stadium.
Like most visitors, Captain Shreve (4-3, 1-3 District 1-5A) looked clearly overmatched from the moment it stepped on the field against the bigger and stronger Eagles (5-2, 3-0). Their superior speed and intensity after the opening kickoff only widened the gap in a 55-0 rout.
“This game wasn’t easy,” coach Byron Dawson said. “We really had to fight. We really had to put forth a great effort, especially in the second half to really finish the game.”
The Gators picked up two first downs on their opening drive and only three the rest of the game. They never crossed the Evangel 40 yard line until their last drive, which ended with Will Adcock missing a 46-yard field goal.
As usual, the Eagles’ menacing defensive front led the way, putting heavy pressure on quarterback Lucas Grubb and holding Captain Shreve to negative rushing yardage before backup running back James Ivory broke a 47-yard run late in the fourth quarter. Two missing starters for the Gators’ offensive line made their task even tougher against a relentless group always swarming to the ball, even when quarterback Lucas Grubb found his receivers in space out wide for 94 yards on 15-of-22 passing.
Linebacker Micah Baskerville led the charge with a few jarring hits, and Aaron Calcotte pounced for a touchdown when the Gators botched a handoff near their goalline. Dawson credited Baskerville’s effort in going sideline to sideline, although the junior seemed unsatisfied by the suffocating of Shreve’s offense.
“We’ve made some progress but we still have to make more in order to go to state,” Baskerville said. “I need to work on reading more keys and dropping back in coverage.”
Even with the offense on the field in the first quarter, Evangel’s defense still scored thanks to big sophomore Elijah Chatmen. The defensive lineman came in at fullback to bull over any defenders brave enough to get in his way on two short touchdown runs.
Overwhelming aggressiveness tends to cause trouble for the Eagles’ defense on occasion, often in the form of significant penalties. They overcame those issues in a 45-8 rout of Parkway earlier this season and appeared to do better at keeping their violent energy between the whistles against Shreve.
The same couldn’t be said for Evangel’s offense, whose frustration mounted after a punt and two field goals in the second quarter. When Dawson kept his starters on the field as running back Tamauge Sloan scored three touchdowns on his way to 154 rushing yards, things turned ugly.
Growing tensions finally exploded with most players on the field from both teams pushing and shoving after some extracurricular activity. Captain Shreve coach Bryant Sepulvado said his players reacted to an opponent throwing a punch, and after a long discussion, officials ejected two Gators and one Eagle, then assessed a 15-yard penalty against Shreve.
“There was two incidents earlier in the game that their kid threw a punch at our kid and they did not call it,” Sepulvado said. “Late hits by them that weren’t called. When a weak official crew doesn’t want to take over a game and lets it get out of control, things like this happen.”
The clock ran for the entire fourth quarter and Evangel offensive coordinator Denny Duron ripped into his team at midfield afterwards, emphasizing there would be no tolerance for fighting the remainder of the season. Dawson said he didn’t see any punches thrown and credited the officials for not letting things get more out of hand.
“We’ll watch the film and we will deal with that,” Dawson said. “We don’t teach that. We want our guys to be godly, Christian leaders and so we never want out kids to get into scuffles and fights during games.”