There have been books and documentaries written about the magic that’s transpired over the years on Rodney Duron Field off Broadacres Road.
Evangel has ridden talented players and little help from above to 13 state championships.
However, Friday’s finish left the Eagles and their fans stunned, while the opponents, for once, were those celebrating wildly.
“I’ve never seen anything like it here,” former Evangel coach Philip Deas said.
An Evangel fumble while attempting to run out the clock in the final minute of regulation offered Catholic High of Baton Rouge an opportunity to tie.
The Bears did to force overtime.
On the second play of the extra session, Catholic High picked off the Eagles and responded with a touchdown to cap a near-miraculous 27-21 victory in a Division I semifinal.
The Bears’ rally from a 21-0 halftime deficit earns them a spot in the state championship game against Rummel at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Friday.
“This was an insane comeback, but we never lose hope,” said Catholic running back Ben Miles, son of LSU head football coach Les Miles.
When asked if Friday’s victory came at a good time considering the strange week his family has endured, Ben Miles said: “It’s huge. Heck yeah, we’re going to the Dome.”
Bears wide receiver Patrick Sulik scored three touchdowns, including a 13-yard reception that helped Catholic High (9-3) tie the game with 24.7 seconds remaining.
Two plays following the interception of Curry in overtime, Sulik hauled in a 4-yard touchdown in the middle of the end zone to spark a crazy celebration.
After Sulik was mobbed, some Bears danced and took selfies with friends and family, while others simply had their hands on their head in amazement.
On the other side, the mood was much different.
“This is going to be tough for our kids,” Evangel head coach Byron Dawson said. “It’s going to be gut-wrenching, but we’ll learn from it and we’ll grow from it.”
With Evangel leading 21-14 and Catholic void of time outs with less than a minute to play, Evangel faced third-and-6 near midfield. Logically, the ball went into the hands of Jamarqueza Mims, who piled up 136 yards and two touchdowns Friday.
However, the final carry of the senior’s career hit the turf.
The Bears recovered with 57 seconds remaining in the game, but didn’t need near that much time.
Catholic quarterback Ian Brian went 3-for-3 with the game on the line and helped even the score.
“This is a year-round process to get to this point,” Dawson said. “It doesn’t come down to one play. It’s never one play, but a combination of plays and little things that end up getting you at the end. We never point the finger at one play.”
Thanks to a two fumbles and a botched fourth-down attempt by Evangel, Catholic’s three second-half scoring drives all began in Eagles territory (46-, 28- and 44-yard line).
The game-winner came following an overtime interception.
“When you have a lead like that, you have to try to control the clock – you can’t blow those opportunities,” Dawson said.
The finish was made more shocking considering how the Eagles (9-3) raised eyebrows around the area following their jump to the state’s highest classification.
“We got better,” Dawson said. “Doing great in our district, sharing that title, and getting to the semifinals. I’m proud. We really stepped up to the challenge and that’s what we’ve always done here at Evangel.”
The folks around here have just never seen things end like this.