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photo contributed to the opelika observer

‘The Mental Game’
Southern Christian Fail to Get
Over Hump Against Evangel

BY WIL CREWS
SPORTSCREWS@OPELIKAOBSERVER.COM

Last time out, the Southern Christian Patriots narrowly defeated Alabama Christian Sports Conference (ACSC) powerhouse Evangel, but ultimately fell to the Lightning, 14-8, as the comeback effort fell short.

The game itself was a defensive showdown — somewhat of a surprise given Evangel entered the game averaging 48.5 points per contest.

Despite the overall sluggishness on offense, Southern Christian began the game in a rhythm. The Patriots marched down the field in quick succession until running back Jagger Scott plunged into the end zone on a 15-yard run, shedding multiple wimpy Evangel tacklers in the process.

The score was set up by a secondary-busting 25-yard pass from quarterback Jackson Dooley to slot receiver Tripp Vaughn.

Looking to establish a dominance early, Southern Christian then attempted the two-point conversion, and Dooley took a direct snap off the edge of the line, to the sideline and into the end zone. The Patriots took an early 8-0 lead.

“[Southern Christian] really came here and punched us right in the mouth,” said Evangel head coach Jon Parker. “To be honest, we were not expecting that.”

Defying expectation even further, Southern Christian held its lead and deterred the Lightning from the end zone until just three minutes before the end of the half.

Ultimately, however, the game was decided in the next three minutes. That’s when the Patriots defensive brigade faltered as the Lightning flipped momentum with two scores before the break.

One offensive, one defensive — the Lightning were opportunistic and used a broken coverage and a fumble recovery to take a 14-8 lead into the locker room.

The second half was a battle of attrition between both teams. Neither offense established a rhythm and the defenses seemingly bellowed at their opponent’s attempts to move the ball.

Defensively for Southern Christian, Scott and his brother Jed, River Nelson and Vaughn led the way.

Scott had two deflections, Nelson had one and Vaughn forced the only Evangel turnover of the game, interception the Lightning quarterback’s pass.

Offensively, excluding the scorers of the first half, the Patriots offense posed little to no threat. The stellar defensive play of the Lightning dashed all hoped of a comeback as the Patriots left Alabaster with the loss. 

“We have got to do the little things every play if we are going to beat teams like Evangel,” said Southern Christian head coach Billie Watts. “We have to work on moving the football and playing a complete game start to finish. We are on the verge of being a good team if we can get over the mental game.”

Southern Christian now turns its sights to non-conference opponent Southern Preparatory Academy (formerly Lyman Ward), who the Patriots travel to face in Camp Hill on Thursday night.

The Patriots will look for similar aggression and dominance out of their defense and more efficiency out of an offense averaging just 15.3 points per games through three contest.

Watts said his team will be outnumbered nearly three to one. But there’s been bigger surprises with worse odds. Regardless, Watts is confident “his boys will bring home the win.”

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