THIBODAUX — Evangel running back Dashawn Johnson skirted inside the pylon with about a minute remaining, and the Eagles appeared to have pulled off the road upset in the Division II Select playoffs.
But how things turned, for the worse. Evangel’s season ended with a last-play 32-29 loss to No. 4-seed E.D. White Friday night.
A holding penalty wiped out Johnson’s score, which would have snapped a 29-all tie, and then two more holding penalties pushed 13th-seeded Evangel out of field goal range.
E.D. White return man Matt Melancon then made Evangel pay, taking a punt into Evangel territory on a long return that set up the winning field goal as time expired. The kick barely made it over the crossbar.
“It was the greatest feeling to watch Dashawn get into the end zone because we thought we had won the game, but then the holding penalty wiped it out and we got two more holding penalties,” said Evangel’s coach, Pastor Denny Duron. “And then we punted it to the best returner in the state, probably ill-advised there. But it was a really athletic return down the left side.
“Hat’s off to (Melancon) and the kicker, who had ice water in his veins. Even though the ending wasn’t what we wanted, this was a very important night for us because our kids understood that we could have won this game – it was as much ours as it was theirs.”
The ending wasn’t what Evangel was seeking, and neither was the beginning.
Evangel fell into a 21-6 hole in the first quarter before rallying to take a 29-21 lead early in the fourth quarter.
“We made some mistakes early offensively, but our quarterback (Peyton Fulgham) overcame that, and he kept throwing,” Duron said. “We played well defensively, but E.D. White hit some long passes early, which is uncharacteristic of a team who has a formidable option attack.
“But I’m so proud of these kids. Our team isn’t about wins and losses, we’re about each other. We’ve established a culture where we love God, love each other and love playing this game. They are already telling stories on the bus, and they are full of joy.”
Evangel (7-5) had its four-game winning streak snapped as E.D. White (10-1) avenged a 2019 playoff loss (84-20).