Tabernacle Christian opened up the 2019 football season with a 35-6 home loss to Ezekiel Academy on Friday night.
The Torches (0-1) were a little shorthanded as projected starters Tony Galbraith, who led the team in rushing last season with 1,004 yards, and Caleb Box were held out of action due to injuries. Without Galbraith in the backfield and with a few questions looming up front, Tabernacle struggled to generate offense.
The home team finished with 151 yards from scrimmage (69 rushing and 82 passing) compared to Ezekiel Academy’s 280 yards (217 rushing and 63 passing).
Tabernacle rotated quarterbacks throuought, allowing both Drew Peters, a junior, and Clinton Chase, a freshman, time at the wheel, but head coach Keith Dabbs didn’t feel like either separated himself enough to win the job.
“Our line blocked so poorly that we quit looking for our receivers and started watching the pass rush,” said Dabbs. “Our quarterbacks got really gun-shy.”
Peters, who gained part-time experience last season, completed five of his eight passing attempts for 63 yards to go with a short touchdown rush in the fourth quarter. Chase, in his first varsity action, connected on three of his eight passes for 19 yards and a pair of interceptions to Ezekiel sophomore Payton Patchel, who ran the first turnover all the way back for a 35-6 lead late in the fourth quarter.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t generate a little more offense,” said Dabbs. “I’m not shocked we didn’t generate a little more offense because we’ve been so limited [in practice] with small numbers. I’m still not sure who our center/guards are. I’ve got to took at film and see if anybody blocked anybody.”
The Torches’ one scoring drive was aided by a third-and-9 conversion that gave them a first down at the 1, setting the stage for a short quarterback keeper from Peters to cut into a 28-point deficit early in the fourth. Peters went to Josiah Davis on a screen pass for the conversion. Davis had plenty of room down the home sideline and nearly broke the goal line as he drug multiple defenders from the 5 all the way down to the doorstep.
“It was good to finally break the ice and get on the scoreboard there,” said Dabbs.
Ezekiel’s three offensive touchdowns came in the first half of play, and each give credit to a strong running game. Quarterback Austin Devaughn led the Knights with 105 yards rushing and two scores on nine carries. Running back Andrew Harrison went for 67 yards and a touchdown on six calls.
For Tabernacle, Davis finished with 120 yards of offense on 12 carries (43 yards) and six receptions (77 yards).
The Torches remain in non-region play next Friday when they visit Hope Christian.