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Cougars trounce ECA

By By Matthew Nascone
Teams usually play their Homecoming game against some team that does not pose much of a threat. This is done to ensure a happy night of fun and dancing, but the Evangel Christian Academy Lions got a surprise on their Homecoming night. The Escambia Academy Cougars spoiled Homecoming for the second week in a row, downing the Lions 36-15.
"It was nice to spoil another Homecoming," EA head coach Heath Gibson said. "When someone does not give you respect, it is not hard to get the guys up for the game."
The game was played Thursday night due to a shortage of referees.
The Cougars (4-3, 2-3) wasted no time Thursday, marching down the field and scoring a touchdown on a run by senior fullback Joe Drew with 7:25 remaining in the first quarter. Senior wingback Kevin Maher rushed in for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 EA lead.
Evangel answered quickly, scoring a touchdown while only taking four minutes off the clock to close the Cougar lead to 8-7 after a successful PAT.
With not even one minute gone in the second quarter the Cougars tacked on another score as Drew rumbled into the end zone from 15 yards out on fourth down. The two-point attempt failed and EA widened the lead to 14-7.
Senior quarterback Cody Norton padded the Cougar lead with 6:25 remaining in the half when he sprinted 71 yards to the end zone on a broken pass play. A failed PAT left the score at 20-7. Neither team scored again before the half.
Gibson said he felt confident in his offensive line throughout the entire game.
"I felt like we could get seven or eight yards a pop," he said. "And as the game progressed the o line took charge and played physical. And when they know they can shove it down their throat, that is a good thing."
The second half of action opened with a bang for the Cougars, as Norton picked off his second pass of the game on the first play of the half and returned it to the ECA 48 yard line. EA took advantage of the good field position and Drew scored his second touchdown of the night from one yard out. Maher added the two-point conversion and EA led 28-7.
After the Lions crossed into Cougar territory on their next possession, Norton intercepted his third pass of the game, but EA could not take advantage and turned the ball over on downs.
Evangel scored on a 50-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 28-15 after a converted two-point conversion with 1:31 left in the third quarter. But the Lions would not score again and EA sealed the victory with a final score on their first drive of the fourth quarter. Maher busted through the Evangel defense for 16 yards and his second touchdown of the night. Drew added the two-point conversion.
The Cougars finished the night with 396 yards rushing and Gibson said that was a testament to how far the offensive line has come from the first game of the season.
"I feel real good about this team because they are a young team and we have seen improvements from week to week," he said.
Drew rushed for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, Maher carried the rock eight times, scoring twice and racking up 40 yards, freshman wingback Jon Dean touched the ball 12 times for 73 yards and Norton gained 73 yards and one touchdown on seven carries. He was also 1-for-3 through the air for 10 yards.
Defensively Drew had a team-high eight tackles, Dean recorded six tackles, senior linebacker Ethan Brooks recorded five tackles and Norton grabbed four tackles and had three interceptions.
The Cougars look towards their own Homecoming game next Friday as they host Wilcox Academy. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Bachelor Field.