After the Eagles went up 50-42 with 7:39 left in the third quarter, Greenville Christian football coach Randy Jones implored his team “to play some defense.”
The Eagles responded with a pair of interceptions by Wilson Feezel and Peyton Doan on East Texas Christian Academy’s next two possessions to put a little breathing room between the Eagles and the Panthers from Tyler.
Greenville Christian went on to win the six-man shootout 82-55 on the Eagles’ homecoming on Saturday.
It was a special game for the Eagles, not just because of homecoming but because the Caddo Mills band played throughout the first half and performed at halftime as a show of support to Greenville Christian fifth grader Trevor Daniel, who is battling cancer.
Ethan Daniel, Trevor’s older brother, ran for 95 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and also caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Feezel, who was 13-of-19 passing for 173 yards and six touchdowns.
“I was kind of playing for my brother and playing for my team,” said Ethan.
He said the appearance of the Fox band and the show of support for his brother “made it more than just a football game.”
“It added more purpose to it,” he said.
Trevor said he “liked” the Foxes’ band performance and “really enjoyed” watching his brother play football.
East Texas Christian, which remained winless at 0-6, hung tough with the Eagles for much of the game, trailing only 43-42 at halftime. Panther quarterback Win Fox was 26-of-37 for 397 yards passing and seven touchdowns.
Panther wide receiver Evan Finn caught 13 passes for 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Panthers’ emphasis on the passing game showed as they ran for only 55 yards. Their head coach Jon Lyles has coached arena football and was a head coach at Oklahoma Panhandle State.
Jones said the Eagles didn’t play very good defense in the first half.
“We seemed distracted,” he said. “We can play offense all day. Defensively, we weren’t focused today.”
The Eagles’ defense allowed 452 yards and eight touchdowns.
But the Greenville Christian School offense racked up 407 total yards. The Eagles scored nine touchdowns on offense and one on special teams.
Nick Jackson had a big game for Greenville Christian, catching touchdown passes of 8, 25, 21 and 26 yards from Feezel and also ran for scores of 37 and 11 yards and returned a kickoff 46 yards for a touchdown. Jackson ended up with seven receptions for 125 yards and 48 yards rushing on just two carries.
Eli Wimberley also ran for 90 yards on 10 carries and caught a 24-yard touchdown pass as the Eagles finished with 234 yards rushing.
Greenville Christian, which plays next at Dallas Tyler Street on Friday, improved to 4-2 for the season and 1-1 in district play.