BY DOUG GORMAN
MCDONOUGH—Second-year Trinity Christian head coach Kenny Dallas knew his team was going to be in for a battle Friday night in its Region 5 1A contest on the road against three-time defending Class A private school champion Eagle’ Landing Christian.
He was right.
The top-ranked Chargers put in a stellar performance on offense and defense and took the Lions out of the game early en route to a 61-0 victory.
The loss spoiled a chance for Dallas to pull the upset against his friend and Eagle’s Landing head coach Jonathan Gess.
Before getting the head coaching job at Trinity last season, Dallas served as Gess’ defensive coordinator at ELCA for three years.
The two also coached against each other when Dallas was the head coach at Landmark Christian.
Eagle’s Landing Christian alternated between the run and the pass and built a 20-0 lead after the first quarter.
They extended it to 41-0 at the half and never looked back.
Eagle’s Landing Christian spread the offensive wealth throughout the night, but it was junior Keaton Mitchell who inflicted some of the biggest damage against the Lions.
Mitchell scored four rushing touchdowns and also returned an interception from the defensive side of the ball for a touchdown.
His offense touchdowns accounted for 107 yards.
The Chargers set the tone early, taking the opening drive 87 yards in just over three minutes for the first score of the game.
Trinity had a chance to stop the drive after its solid defense forced a third-down and six, but quarterback Brayden Rush completed a pass to Justin Menard to keep the chains moving.
Three plays later Rush scored on a quarterback keeper.
Eagle’s Landing was back in the end zone a little more than two minutes later after intercepting a Trinity pass.
The Chargers converted two third-down situations during the drive.
Mitchell gave Eagle’s Landing Christian a 14-0 lead on the first of his touchdowns when he scored on a 15-yard run.
Trinity briefly put itself back in the game late in the first quarter when David Flowers picked off a pass for the Chargers.
The Lions were unable to capitalize on the turnover and punted the ball back over to Chargers.
With 45 seconds left in the first quarter, the Chargers extended the lead to 20-0 when Rush connected with Justin Robinson for ELCA’s third touchdown of the game.
Trinity’s blocked the extra point.
Eagle’s Landing Christian extended the lead to 27-0 on its first drive of the second quarter after Mitchell scored on a 3-yard run.
Mitchell gave the Chargers a 34-0 lead with 3:48 left in the half when he added another touchdown on a 5-yard run.
Mitchell wasn’t done, however, as he added score, this time from the defensive side of the ball when intercepted a pass late in first half and raced down the sidelines for a 41-yard interception return to give the Chargers a 41-0 lead.
The Chargers picked up right where they left off in the first half, scoring on their opening series of the second half when Robinson caught Rush’s 8-yard pass to increase the lead to 48-0,
Mitchell put an exclamation point on the Chargers’ victory with a 84-yard scamper into the end zone.
Rodgers added the final touchdown of the game with a running clock in the fourth quarter.
Trinity falls to 3-2 overall and 0-2 in the region. The Lions return home next week for a region game against Strong Rock.
Trinity—0 0 0 0—0
ELCA—20 21 14 6—61
E—Braden Rush 1-yard run (kick good), 8:50
E—Keaton Mitchell 15-yard run (kick good), 6:24
E—Braden Rush 31 pass to Justin Robinson, .45 (kick blocked)
E—Keaton Mitchell 3-yard run (kick good), 7:56
E—Keaton Mitchell 5-yard run (kick good), 3:48
E—Keaton Mitchell 48-yard interception return, (kick good), .58
E—Braden Rush 8-yard touchdown pass to Justin Robinson (kick good), 8:51
E—Keaton Mitchell 84-yard touchdown run (kick good), 3:44
E—Josh Rodgers 35-yard touchdown, (kick good)