One team at Donelson Christian Academy’s Ken Redmond Stadium last Friday night finished last season as state runner-up, and one team did not win a game in 2018.
For the first two quarters, it was difficult to determine the difference between the teams. Then Friendship Christian scored 16 points in just more than six minutes in the third quarter, and the Commanders defeated DCA 22-6.
Friendship, the Division II-A runner-up last season, led 3-0 at halftime with a 23-yard field goal by Neill Kane in the first quarter. The Wildcats (2-1, 0-1 DII-A East), who did not win a game in coach Paul Wade’s first season, held Friendship to 40 yards of offense – 11 yards rushing and 29 yards passing – and two first downs in the first half.
Friendship scored on its first possession of the second half, a nine-play, 61-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown run.
On the next DCA offensive series, Friendship defensive tackle Ryan Jackson, an Eastern Kentucky commitment, intercepted a pass and returned the ball to the DCA 10. The Wildcats prevented the Commanders (2-1, 2-0) from scoring with a fourth-down tackle at the 1.
DCA couldn't move the ball, and gave the Commanders a 12-0 lead when punter Parker Howell stepped out of the end zone for a safety. The Commanders scored on their next possession to take a 19-0 lead with 1:38 left in the third quarter.
“We played great in the first half and OK in the second half,” Wade said. “That is the best team we have played so far this season and probably the best team we will play all year until the playoffs.”
Howell scored the Wildcats’ touchdown on a 36-yard pass from Parker Kelley.
DCA fullback Brady Russell had 44 rushing yards on three carries, including a 38-yard run in the first half. Jon Lewis, who played wide receiver last season, had 44 yards on 11 carries.
Jordan Turner had 15 yards on five carries but left the game in the first half with an ankle injury.
“Their defense has got a good line, and we knew if we got to the secondary, we had a chance to score,” said Lewis, who also caught two passes. “The takeaway from this game is that we almost had it. I think if we had gotten a little more physical, we would have had it.”
Lewis’ 30-yard run three minutes into the fourth quarter gave DCA its first first down of the second half. Kelley completed 9-of-20 passes for 158 yards in the game as DCA had 296 total yards on offense. The Wildcats had the only two turnovers of the game, a fumble in the first half and Jackson’s interception.
“This does not affect any of our goals for the season,” Wade said.
The Wildcats lost to Friendship in the 2017 state championship game and 55-19 last season.
DCA will play at Middle Tennessee Christian next Friday night.