It was total domination in all three facets of the game as the Evangel Eagles routed the Holy Cross Tigers 59-9 in the Division I state playoff game at Rodney Duron Field.
In the first half of play the Eagles were so balanced that they had two touchdowns apiece on special teams, defense and offense.
“We come out every day and work real hard on the three phases of the game,” Evangel coach Byron Dawson said. “Hats off to coach Justin Hatwin and DJ Curry for doing a great job with our special teams.”
On the first play of the game, Eagles wideout Orlando Puryear returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown.
“First, I wanna thank all my blockers who blocked for me”, Puryear said, “and once I saw a hole it was straight from there.”
Holy Cross (3-7) answered back after quarterback Chandler Fields (12-of-25 passing for 160 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions) orchestrated, mostly out of the shotgun formation, a dink-and-dunk, slow, grinding drive culminating in a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Albion Ford who slipped in between two defensive backs in the corner of the north end zone.
On the Eagles’ second kick off, this time Caleb LaBoy took it 80 yards for a touchdown after finding a lane in the coverage and sped through to the end zone. Back-to-back kickoff returns for touchdowns set the tone for the Eagles and the remainder of the game. Evangel took hold of this momentum and never relinquished it.
“I said, ‘I got to do it,'” LaBoy said. “I had great blocks, and I saw the open hole and took it.”
With the exception of a late second quarter field goal, the Eagles owned the rest of the ballgame.
From the eight- minute mark until the 7:09 mark of the second quarter the Eagles scored 21 unanswered points. In :51 seconds, Eagles running back Tamauge Sloan had an electrifying touchdown run for 35 yards. On defense, Davin Cotton recovered a fumble after an errant flea-flicker attempt for the touchdown. And after a Jarrick Bernard interception, Connor Curry (6-of-10 passing for 155 yards and two touchdowns) found Christian Bailiff on a slant for a 36-yard touchdown catch. Linebacker Bobby Bell’s pick-6 about midway through the second quarter totaled 28 points in the second quarter for the Eagles to three for the Tigers.
“We want to come out and get better, we hadn’t played a complete game all season,” Dawson said. “We need to play complete games especially deeper in the playoffs.”
Curry struck again in the third quarter when he dropped a screen past in the flats to Sloan who took it 41 yards for the score. And to add injury to insult, Eagles defensive lineman Elijah Chatman blocked an opponent backwards and the punt ricocheted off his helmet and was recovered by Eagles defensive linemen Myles Cole for a touchdown. Eagles kicker Seth Green ended the scoring with a 35-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter.