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Academy football defeats CPA in BlueCross Bowl, claims state title

Republished from Lumination Network, Dec. 2, 2021.

CHATTANOOGA – The Lipscomb Academy varsity football team won the BlueCross Bowl Division II-AA Tennessee State Championship over the Christ Presbyterian Academy Lions 27-0 Thursday morning at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga.

Senior quarterback Luther Richesson led the Mustangs to their first Division II-AA state title, going 16-for-18 in the air for 147 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

A matchup rich with storylines brought together two teams with revenge on their minds: after CPA took down Lipscomb in last year’s state championship game, Lipscomb punished the Lions at home in a 38-0 drubbing to win the regular season title.

This time around, it was a similar story in a completely new circumstance for the Mustangs in a high-pressure game at the home of the Chattanooga Mocs.

“To see what they’ve done, the sacrifices they’ve made, to change a community and to see them get rewarded for it–because you don’t always get rewarded for it–I think they learned a valuable lesson,” head coach and former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer said. “If you do the right things, good things are eventually going to happen.”

Partially due to the pressure, the two teams combined for 14 penalties, nine of which went against Lipscomb and three of which were false starts.

“It took patience,” Dilfer said. “The penalties were killing us. We kept getting first-down penalties and we’re in second down and 20, second down and 24. I could have run it to punt, but I also wanted to be aggressive.”

Tough defense was a recurring theme throughout the game, as Lipscomb’s experienced front seven continued to cause problems for the Lions. CPA’s defense worked hard to stop the run game for the Mustangs, but in the end, senior running back Alex Broome won out over a stingy defensive line. Broome amassed 137 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries for 6.9 yards per run.

“We knew we were better than them up front,” Dilfer said. “We knew we could eventually wear them out; that’s why we played with tempo. Really, I called the first half in anticipation for the first half. I felt like we’d have our way in the second half.”

Senior quarterback Luther Richesson started fast, completing two first-down passes on his first two attempts. The Mustangs’ opening drive stalled out, though, as Broome came up short on a third-and-6 run that brought up a fourth down in CPA territory.

Dilfer decided to draw up a fourth-down play, and the result was a CPA interception, only the fifth of the year thrown by Richesson.

The Academy defense carried over its dominance from the regular-season matchup with the Lions, forcing a three-and-out and a quick punt.

From there, Lipscomb embarked on a long, time-consuming drive that took up the rest of the first quarter, leaving the game scoreless after one period of play.

Quickly thereafter, Broome finally hit paydirt on a 7-yard scamper to end a 16-play, 82-yard drive that made it 7-0 for Lipscomb with 11:17 left in the half.

The Mustangs defense were on the cusp of forcing a second straight 3-and-out, but the Lions offense got a boost through Cade Law’s 25-yard strike to Bo Burklow to put CPA in opposing territory.

The pendulum swung back in favor of the Mustangs two plays later, when CPA’s positive drive was axed by an interception by sophomore cornerback Kaleb Beasley.

From there, defense took control. The Lions’ defensive unit came out and stymied Lipscomb, sending them backwards and forcing another fourth down at their own 15-yard line. This time, the Mustangs elected to punt, and the Lions got the ball back midway through the second quarter near midfield.

On the ensuing drive, Lipscomb did the same thing on defense. A fourth-and-19 punt from junior punter Hunter Walker was muffed, and he gave the ball away to the Mustangs at the CPA 40.

Continuing the trend, Lipscomb was driven back defensively to its own 41 and found itself faced with a fourth-and-33, forcing them to punt for the second straight drive.

With 2:08 left in the half, CPA got one more chance to score before the halftime break. Langston Patterson took off for a 55-yard run on third and 9, putting the Lions in striking distance at the Lipscomb 36 with 1:22 to go.

Again, a turnover damaged CPA’s offensive progress. This time, junior linebacker Bryan Longwell picked up a fumbled snap by CPA quarterback Cade Law, giving the Mustangs the ball back in their own half with a minute left.

With just six ticks on the clock, Lipscomb took advantage of the turnover as Richeeson launched a long ball down the left side of the field, where junior wide receiver Nathan Spillman was waiting to grab it. Spillman ran untouched into the end zone to make it 14-0 for the Mustangs.

Behind the late touchdown grab, Lipscomb took a 13-0 lead into the break after senior kicker Grant Hyatt missed the extra point.

The Lions received the second-half kickoff in serious need of a scoring drive. Law and Patterson split eight run plays on a ten-play drive that was hampered by a holding penalty.

A fourth-and-15 conversion attempt led to a Lipscomb sack, and the Mustangs killed CPA’s offensive momentum once again to regain possession at midfield.

Lipscomb found their footing in the run game on their next drive midway through the third quarter. Broome and senior tailback Carlin Walker each got first downs on the ground, bringing the Mustangs into the red zone for the second time of the day.

In the end, Broome was the man who put the ball in the end zone for Lipscomb’s third score of the day, extending its lead to 20-0 at the 1:50 mark in the third quarter.

CPA marched down the field into Lipscomb territory once again but were faced with a fourth and 1 at the Mustangs’ 35 to keep their drive alive. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Law ran on a quarterback keeper and converted the first down.

Their luck ran out on offense once more, though, when they failed to convert on fourth down during the next set of downs and turned the ball over to Lipscomb with just 9:05 remaining in the contest.

The ensuing drive put the nail in the coffin, as a 10-play, 63-yard drive was capped off by junior wideout Maureice Sherrill’s 12-yard touchdown run to make it 27-0.

One final drive for the Lions came up short on fourth down, allowing the Mustangs to kneel on the ball and see the game out.

Lipscomb held a 343-223 yards advantage, including a 147-90 gap in the passing game.

When asked about his future, Dilfer immediately indicated he wasn’t ready to leave Green Hills anytime soon.

“[I have] no plans of going anywhere else! I love this community, I love these kids, we had a great young group of players, and I couldn’t be more excited about being here.”

With the win, Lipscomb finishes its season with a 12-1 record and drops its division rivals CPA to 11-3. The Mustangs will be back in action next fall for their 2022 season.

Article by Danny Kotula