By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
Coach Wayne Dabbs is taking to heart an old truism heard at every level of football: “It’s hard to beat a team twice in one season.”
After Tabernacle Christian rolled over visiting New Life Christian during the regular season, it barely squeaked by the Eagles in the Christian Football Association’s 8-man semifinals Friday night at Gardendale’s Moncrief Park.
It took a 6-yard run by Will Miller with 30 seconds left to give the Torches a 60-58 victory, and send the team into the CFA championship game for the third straight season.
Miller’s game-winning score came at the end of a 60-yard drive that began with just 90 seconds to play, and no time-outs for Dabbs to use. The drive came after the Tabernacle defense held the Eagles on third down and eight at midfield.
Quarterback Caleb Lindsey went to work, firing sideline passes to Justin Sims and Tristan Castro. Sims’ 23-yard catch set up Miller’s scoring run.
The Eagles learned a thing or two in their first outing, a 70-38 loss to Tabernacle. This time out, New Life went with the spread, and it helped them spread a 44-24 lead by halftime, with 32 of their points coming in the second quarter alone.
“They ran the spread — we’re big and physical and hard to run against, and the word is out that the spread is how you try to beat us,” Dabbs said.
But it was the duo of Castro and Sims who put the Torches back in contention with 30 points in the third quarter. Castro finished with three rushing touchdowns and 170 yards on the ground, plus 110 yards receiving and another score. Sims ran 11 times for 105 yards and a touchdown.
Miller also had a receiving touchdown, and Shiver Winchester caught three Lindsey passes for 70 yards and another score. Lindsey was 12-of-16 passing for the night, with one interception.
All totaled, the Torches had 310 yards rushing and 310 passing, for 620 yards total offense — all accomplished on a traditional 8-man field that’s 80 yards from goal to goal.
Tabernacle moves on to the title game at Tuscaloosa Christian School in Cottondale next Friday. The Warriors defeated Victory Christian-Columbus (Miss.) in their semifinal.