by Philip Dowden
A dominant team performance from the 18th-ranked Evangel football team saw the Crusaders post their second shutout of the season 65-0 against Graceland on Saturday afternoon.
The Crusaders moved to 5-1 on the season while the Yellowjackets fell to 0-6 on the season.
Both sides of the ball were clicking for Evangel on Saturday as the offense score nine touchdowns and the defense recorded a safety to help produce the second-highest point total in Crusader football history. The record of 78 points against Culver-Stockton still holds for the 1997 Evangel team.
The defense stepped up picking off the first pass on the first offensive play for Graceland when Jacob Eden earned his first interception.
Just five plays later Evangel would take a 7-0 lead when Cameron Hardesty connected with Jansen Acklin on a 32-yard touchdown strike. It would be the first of four touchdown passes for Hardesty and the first of two touchdowns for Acklin on the day.
The second interception of the game for Evangel, this time by Andrew Poppen, stealing the Yellowjackets‘ final play of the quarter. From there, the Crusaders would need just three plays to drive 42-yards for the second Hardesty to Acklin connection.
Hardesty finished 15-20 for 187 yards and four scores, while Acklin and Buckner each caught five passes. Acklin added 95 yards and two touchdowns, as Bucker chipped with 53 yards and a score.
The running game took over as Ben Friend would score twice in the quarter and finish with 50-yards on just four carries. Friend’s second touchdown came with 5:57 left in the first half, however, Evangel was not done scoring.
A screen pass from Hardesty to Darrius Lee capped a seven-play 60-yard drive to give the Crusaders a 44-0 halftime lead.
Dyllan Decker would join the scoring fun on the ground with two rushing touchdowns of this own, one from 7-yards out and another from 9-yards out in the fourth quarter. Decker led Evangel with 73-yards on the ground as the Crusaders piled up 287 yards rushing total and 474 yards of total offense.
Defensively, Evangel held Graceland to just 113 yards of total offense including 41-yards rushing and 72-yards passing.
The Crusaders finished with 12.0 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, and a blocked punt to highlight the second shutout of the season.