University School of Jackson raced out to a 21-point halftime lead and turned the game over to the defense in the second half to win 28-21 over Evangelical Christian School at Kirkland Field on Friday.
USJ opened the scoring quickly at 10:53 of the first quarter when Easton Underwood connected on a 36-yard-pass to Holland Hawks along the left sideline for a touchdown.
“Honestly, I thought we were going to run the ball,” said Hawks, who had four catches for 107 yards. “We busted the coverage and beat a couple guys and ran it in.”
On ECS’s second play from scrimmage, USJ’s William Jones scooped up the first of four Eagle fumbles and rumbled 50 yards into the endzone. Charles Campbell’s second of four extra points on the night made it 14-0.
With over five minutes left in the first quarter, Underwood scooted 64 yards down the right sideline for a score making it 21-0.
“It was awesome,” said Underwood, who completed 14 of 17 passes for 184 yards and added 63 rushing yards. “The receivers were snagging balls early so that pumped the team up. The defense was holding them so we got the ball back early. We had a lot good catches over the middle.”
Set up by Peyton Taylor’s recovery of a fumbled ECS punt return, USJ capped the first half scoring with Mitchell Bodiford’s five-yard touchdown run with 4:46 left until halftime. Bodiford finished with 90 yards on 25 carries.
The Eagles’ best play of the first half was recovering a fumbled USJ punt return at the Bruin 28-yard-line, leading to a one-yard goalline plunge by Landon Littrell 10:40 before halftime.
ECS marched 59 yards to open the second half, scoring on quarterback Keegan Westbrook’s short six-yard pass play from running back Drew Croegaert.
With 2:38 left in the third quarter, USJ’s 20-yard field goal attempt by Charles Campbell was blocked by ECS’s Carter Dunn and returned by teammate Caleb Jones deep into Bruins territory. A sack by USJ’s Trey Smith on fourth and one stymied the Eagles threat.
USJ’s third fumble of the night at their own 26-yard line set up Evangelical Christian School’s final score on Croegaert’s two-yard run with 4:43 left in the game.
Bodiford’s tackle for a loss on fourth and one with 1:57 left in the game sealed the Bruins’ victory.
“These two teams played hard,” USJ coach Mickey Marley said. “We had some good breaks in the first half and they had some good breaks in the second half. We got some turnovers in the first half and when you score off turnovers, that is huge. They are a good ball team.”
“We had other opportunities to score and they stopped us on defense,” Marley said. “They bowed up and stopped us.”
This Friday USJ (4-1, 1-0) hosts Rossville Christian Academy in a district contest while ECS (1-4, 0-1) plays First Assembly Christian School.
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