When John Curtis quarterback Blaine Hebert fumbled on the Patriots’ first play from scrimmage, it just wasn’t going to be the Patriots’ night.
The fumble was one of four turnovers that doomed the Patriots as top-seeded Curtis was eliminated from the Division I playoffs Friday with a 27-6 semifinal loss to Evangel Christian at Zephyr Field.
Instead of a potential all-Catholic League final, there will be no team from District 9-5A in the Division I state championship game. On the other side of the bracket, second-seeded Scotlandville edged No. 6 Brother Martin 18-16. Evangel and Scotlandville will meet for the state title next Friday in the Superdome.
Curtis’ loss ended the Patriots’ season at 10-1.
The Hebert fumble led to a 20-yard Seth Green field goal to give the Eagles (11-2) a 3-0 lead.
Two possessions later, the Patriots were on the move until Curtis’ other quarterback, Collin Guggenheim, was intercepted in the end zone. Eagles quarterback Connor Curry hooked up with Josh Walker on an 80-yard touchdown one play later to extend Evangel’s lead to 10-0 less than a minute in the second quarter.
A 49-yard run by Evangel running back Tamauge Sloan eventually set up a 2-yard sneak by Curry to cap an 85-yard drive that gave the Eagles a 17-0 halftime lead.
Green kicked a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter to extend Evangel’s lead to 20-0.
Evangel’s final score came on a 16-yard run by Sloan with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Curtis avoided the shutout when Guggenheim scored on a 16-yard run with 59 seconds left in the third quarter.
It wasn’t just the turnovers that helped to eliminate the 26-time state champion Patriots from the playoffs.
A stout Evangel defense limited Curtis to 139 yards of total offense. Curtis running back Marquese Albert was held to 12 yards rushing on eight attempts.
By contrast, the Eagles amassed 332 yards against the Curtis defense.
Sloan rushed for 84 yards on nine carries while Tanner Ash had 87 reception yards and Walker 89. Curry finished 9 of 14 passing for 176 yards.