Eagle’s Landing Christian 49, Pace Academy 0

Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy sent a message Friday night, and it was not subtle.

The Chargers, the four-time defending Class A private school champions, put the state on notice that they are still the best bet to win another title in December, as they rolled over Pace Academy, ranked No. 6 in Class AAA, 49-0.

While it was far from a perfect game for ELCA – the Chargers committed 14 penalties – it was nonetheless a dominant win over a sure playoff contender two classifications higher.

A brief stretch in the second quarter summed up Pace’s night. Midway through the second quarter with ELCA already up 14-0 after two short touchdown runs by seniors Keaton Mitchell and Gabe Wright in the first quarter, ELCA appeared to snuff out its own scoring drive by committing consecutive false start penalties on third-and-2 near midfield. Now facing third-and-12 from Wright lofted a pass down the near sideline and Justin Robinson outfought two Pace defenders for a 35-yard gain to the Knights’ 24-yard line. Three plays later, Mitchell scored on a 5-yard run to boost the lead to 21-0.

Pace’s next drive showed promise, as junior WR/DB Jayden Thomas returned a short kickoff to the ELCA 23-yard line. But the Knights had to settle for a 37-yard field goal attempt, which fell well short.

ELCA tacked on another touchdown at the end of the half, after blocking a punt at the Pace 12-yard line. On third-and-goal from the 3-yard line, Wright hit Robinson in the front corner of the end zone on the near side, to make it 28-0 at halftime.

Pace failed to score in the first half of last year’s battle with ELCA, trailing 16-0 going into the third quarter. The Knights locked down on defense and battled back for a 17-16 win.

But this year’s deficit was too much to overcome, and Mitchell made that clear when fielded the second half kickoff at his goal line and found a seam in the middle of the Knights’ coverage team. He darted through it, bounced out to the near sideline and outran the rest of the Pace defenders for a 100-yard touchdown return to increase the ELCA lead to 35-0.

It was the last time Mitchell would touch the ball on the night, after increasing his touchdown total to five in two games. Junior Josh Rogers took over and added a 1-yard scoring run midway through the third quarter to make it 42-0.

Pace put together its most consistent scoring drive of the game on its next possession moving from its 29-yard line to the ELCA 37. But after gaining six yards on first down, an incomplete pass, a sack and another incomplete pass on fourth down ended the drive at the Chargers’ 33 yard line.

Massengale came in for Wright to run the Charger offense with the clock running in the fourth quarter. The junior added a 21-yard touchdown run for the final points of the night.

Pace Academy 0    0   0  0   0

ELCA                   14 14 14 7 49

E – Gabe Wright 7 run (Alberto Sanchez kick)
E – Keaton Mitchell 8 run (Sanchez kick)
E – Mitchell 5 run (Sanchez kick)
E – Wright 3 pass to Justin Robinson (Sanchez kick)
E – Mitchell 100 KO return (Sanchez kick)
E – Josh Rogers 1 run (Sanchez kick)
E – Philip Massengale 21 run (Sanchez kick)