Score: Culver-Stockton 34, Evangel 17 | Box Score
Records: Evangel (0-1, 0-1), Culver-Stockton (1-0, 1-0)
Location: Canton, Mo. | Poulton Stadium
CANTON, Mo. – The Evangel football team opened its long-awaited 2020 season Saturday with a 34-17 loss to Culver-Stockton, as the Wildcats scored 18 unanswered fourth-quarter points to topple the Crusaders for the first time in six years.
Trailing 17-16 entering the fourth, the Wildcats scored on a 30-yard scoring pass from Korbin Marcum to Connor Perrine on the first play of the period to grab the lead. CSC forced three fourth-quarter turnovers and relied on a 24-yard Parker Newman field goal and the third Marcum-to-Perrine scoring pass of the game to seal the outcome.
Marcum rebounded from an early interception to complete 25-of-46 passes for 257 yards, while setting the CSC career record for passing touchdowns with his four scoring passes on the afternoon. Perrine hauled in five catches--three of went for touchdowns--for a total of 95 yards, and Jordan Grant rushed for 142 yards to lead the Wildcats.
Evangel was limited to 178 yards of total offense by a stout CSC defense, which allowed just 45 rushing yards on the day and kept the Crusaders out of the endzone in the second half.
It was the Crusader defense that turned in the first big play of the afternoon on Culver-Stockton's opening offensive possession, as Josh Keys stepped in front of a Marcum pass at the CSC 43 and returned the interception 26 yards to set up Evangel with an early scoring opportunity. Sam Buckner took a jet sweep for 16 yards to the CSC 1, and Nicos Oropeza took it in from there for a 7-0 EU lead.
The Wildcats responded with a 77-yard scoring drive that ended with a 15-yard, Marcum-to-Perinne touchdown toss at the 5:36 mark. CSC set the tone for the afternoon by inflicting most of its damage on the ground, racking up 64 rushing yards on six attempts, including 45 yards on three Grant carries.
CSC used big plays from its special teams and defense in the opening moments of the second quarter to seize the lead. On the first play from scrimmage in the period, Wildcat punter Maxwell Blaschke boomed a 46-yard punt to pin the Crusaders at their own one. One play later, Dalton Huffman stopped Oropeza in the endzone for a safety and a 9-7 CSC advantage.
Later in the quarter, Marcum took command by completing 7-of-11 passes for 77 yards, capping an 87-yard drive with a 12-yard scoring pass to Mateen Johnson with just over five minutes to play in the half.
Evangel's Zeke Kuyawa matched Marcum's aerial display with a perfect 5-for-5 drive, accounting for 59 of EU's 66 yards as part of a series that pulled the Crusaders back to within two points. Kuyawa connected with Will Jackson for an 18-yard TD pass with just 0:51 left on the clock, making it a 16-14 game at the half.
CSC out-gained the Crusaders by a margin of 100 yards in total offense in the half, rushing for 105 yards on 20 carries, while Marcum threw for 119 yards on 14-of-23 passing.
But the Crusaders emerged from the lockerroom with momentum and promptly stopped the Wildcats offense on its first two drives of the third period. Taking advantage of a personal foul facemask, EU quickly moved into CSC territory, using a 17-yard completion to Josh Tips to set up the go-ahead scoring chance.
Three-straight incompletions thwarted the drive, but Noah Gibson connected on a 28-yard field goal try with 6:30 left in the period to put the Crusaders in front for the first time since the opening quarter.
But that would be the high-water mark for EU, which sustained its first opening-day loss since 2017. In the closing moments of the third quarter, Marcum moved the chains with a key third-down completion to Huffman and found Perrine for a 14-yard gain before Nathan Barnes' 18-yard run set up the go-ahead touchdown pass to open the fourth quarter.
Stephen Benson then picked off a Kuyawa pass at the CSC 26 with 12:37 to play as Evangel was driving to attempt to score the equalizing touchdown. The Wildcats picked up two more loose footballs on the next two EU possessions.
Buckner led the Crusaders in rushing with 42 yards on four carries, complementing his two receptions for 15 yards. Koel Orchard led the defense with nine tackles, while Isaiah Ordaz and Will Boswell each registered eight stops for EU.
Evangel makes its home debut next Thursday (Sept. 24) against Grand View. Kickoff from Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Missouri is scheduled for 6 p.m. Seating will be limited to 50-percent capacity, with tickets limited to advance sales only via EvangelTix.com. Fans can access the most up-to-date spectator guidlines and policies through EvangelAtheltics.com.
Fans can now follow the Crusaders on Facebook at Facebook.com/EUAthletics, Twitter (@EUAthletics), or online at EvangelAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates by downloading the new Evangel Crusaders Gameday App through Google Play.