Lipscomb Academy (11-2) beat ECS (9-3) 56-13 Friday night on the road to secure its first trip to the state championship since 2007.
It wouldn’t have been possible without hat tricks from Alex Broome and Justin Hughes. Broome had 94 yards rushing on just nine carries, while Hughes had 86 yards receiving on two catches and a kickoff return for touchdown. This was Hughes' first time returning kicks for the Mustangs all season and he made sure to capitalize on his opportunities.
“This was his first week,” said LA head coach Trent Dilfer. “It's usually Willie Berris and Alex Broome back there. Willie’s been banged up a little bit so we wanted to give him a breather there. Justin had a nice week of practice and we knew that they wouldn’t kick the ball to Alex, so we wanted to make sure we took advantage of that.”
The Mustangs started off the game with the ball and couldn’t get anything going early on and were forced to punt after a three and out that took 1:30 off the clock. The ball would be passed back and forth between the two teams for the majority of the first quarter.
With 4:46 left in the first quarter, Luther Richesson found Hughes down the field for 41 yards and a touchdown. Hughes broke one tackle and had a clear path to the endzone to put Lipscomb up 7-0.
ECS had a three and out on the ensuing drive and gave the ball to the Mustangs. Lipscomb drove down the field on a seven-play drive that ended with a Broome touchdown from one-yard line as the Mustangs increased the lead to 14-0 just before the end of the first quarter.
ECS couldn’t find a way to move the ball in the first half as Lipscomb would go on to score 28 unanswered points. Daniel Green was wide open in the end zone after Richesson faked a pitch to Broome for eight yards with 10:07 before half. Then, Sam Fisher intercepted a screen pass intended for Jamison Smith to increase the lead to 28-0 with 3:34 left before half.
“That’s Sam’s second pick six this year,” said Dilfer. “I don’t know how many defensive lineman can say that. We’re so well coached.”
ECS found the end zone in the first half after Jacob Hatcher hit Caiden Hill on a strike down the middle of the field, but this would be one of two touchdowns in the game for the Eagles.
Hughes scored the next two touchdowns for the Mustangs in the first half. One by way of the kickoff, and the other came from a 45-yard pass from Richesson with just 13 seconds before halftime.
“Justin ran that particular route on Wednesday during practice,” said Dilfer. “I looked at him and said, 'I’ve been in the NFL for 14 years, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more perfect route.' To his credit I was kinda saving that one. Luther was a little late on the throw, but his arm is so strong now he can wait. It got us down the field and gave us some momentum going into halftime.”
Lipscomb entered halftime with a 42-7 lead after the dust cleared.
The third quarter was all Broome. The Mr. Football semifinalist scored on a 5-yard run, and then a 30-yard run to increase the Mustang lead to 56-7 going into the fourth quarter. ECS scored its second and last touchdown of the season on a 19-yard run from junior running back Tucker White.
Richesson was another bright spot for the Mustangs with his only mistake coming in the second quarter as he finished the game going 10-15 passes for 311 yards with three touchdowns.
It’s pretty hard to write a better storyline than old rivals Lipscomb Academy and CPA facing off in the championship game.
The Mustangs await a rematch with the Lions (10-1) in the D-II AA state title game on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 11 a.m. at Tennessee Tech.
The last time the Mustangs and Lions met was during the regular season where Lipscomb beat CPA 20-14. CPA just beat Goodpasture by a score of 58-22 Friday night to book their ticket to state.
CPA was in the championship game last year and ended up losing to ECS 17-14. It won the year before against BGA.
“I’m really excited,” said Dilfer. “I have so much respect for CPA. Ingle is as good a high school coach as there is. He has a great staff, his kids play so hard. They’re one of the standard teams of Middle Tennessee Football, and we love the challenge.”
Against all the doubts of there even being a season, Lipscomb and CPA, like many other teams across the state of Tennessee, are about to finish the year after a lot of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That’s what this things about, that we’ve even gotten this far,” said Dilfer. “Not us the Mustangs, us as Middle Tennessee Football. I’m so happy for these boys. These girl volleyball players, girls soccer players, golf teams. That they’ve been able to live their lives and do something that they love."