By Jeffery Armstrong
FAIRBURN Landmark Christian School quarterback Matt Moody threw three touchdown passes, two in the second half, to lead the War Eagles to a 34-21 victory over the Eagle's Landing Christian Academy Chargers Friday night and clinch the Region 5-A championship.
ELCA (8-2, 3-1) finishes second in the region and will host a Class A state playoff game against Hancock Central next Friday at 7:30 p.m.
It was Senior Night for Landmark (6-4, 4-0), but it was the sophomore Moody who was in control of the contest. Moody was 11 of 21 for 171 yards and came up with big pass plays all night long to secure Landmark's third straight region crown.
The Chargers played a very sloppy first quarter, partly due to nerves. ELCA fumbled three times in the quarter, losing two of them. ELCA managed to stay in the game by playing good defense of its own, including a Kerk Murray interception. Moody rebounded from that pick to throw his first TD pass to wide receiver Miles King for a 7-0 Landmark lead at the 8:11 mark.
In the second quarter, Moody, who doubled as the Landmark punter, put the Chargers on their own four yard line. ELCA couldn't move the ball and had to punt from their own end zone. Landmark's Nathan Hunter raced in and blocked the punt and Zech Glaize strolled in the end zone eight yards later for a 14-0 War Eagles lead with 5:13 left in the first half.
ELCA finally found an offensive spark on the ensuing possession. Chargers quarterback Cole Springer threw a 69-yard TD pass to running back Russ Cooper to cut the Landmark lead to 14-7 at the 4:47 mark.
Springer completed 9 of 18 passes for 143 yards and the touchdown.
The good feeling on the Chargers side lasted only one minute. Landmark running back Trey Strickland scored from seven yards out to push the lead to 21-7 at the half.
The Chargers exploded in the second half. The ELCA defense stopped Landmark and the Charger offense took advantage. Cooper ran for a 12-yard touchdown and Murray scored on a 24-yard TD run to tie the score at 21 with 5:20 left in the third quarter.
Moody wouldn't be denied, however. He drove the War Eagles down the field after ELCA tied the score and threw a fade pass to Tyler Tidwell in the corner of the end zone to give Landmark the lead for good. The point-after attempt was blocked and the score stood at 27-21.
Moody's second TD pass to King in the fourth quarter gave Landmark the final score of 34-21.
"I am so proud of these guys. They never gave up and showed tremendous character," said ELCA head coach Tim Luke. "Landmark is a class program with class players. We're going to get better playing a team like that. But I tell you what: we're not going anywhere."