GARDENDALE, AL — In a thrilling early-season matchup between CFA conference rivals, the Jacksonville Christian Academy Thunder proved their mettle by defeating the Tabernacle Christian Torches with a commanding score of 27-8 on a rainy Friday night at Gardendale’s Bill Nobel Athletic Complex.
The Thunder drew first blood, storming to a 6-0 lead early in the contest. However, the Torches roared back with an impressive rushing display. Quarterback Aaron Peters led the charge, orchestrating a well-executed drive that culminated him calling his own number and bolting into the endzone. A Reed Chase two-point conversion put Tabernacle on top 8-6.
Just when it seemed the Torches had seized control of the game, the Thunder unleashed a lightning strike of their own. With seconds remaining in the first half, they found pay-dirt on a tipped pass, giving the visitors 13-6 heading into the break.
The second half was a one-sided affair as the Thunder defense stifled the Tabernacle ground attack, effectively putting the breaks on a Torches comeback.
Tabernacle junior quarterback Aaron Peters, making his first career start, displayed a mix of nerves and promise. He completed 3-of-9 passes for 17 yards while showcasing his mobility with 34 rushing yards and a touchdown. Reed Chase led the TCS ground attack, carrying the ball 16 times for 87 yards and contributing a critical two-point conversion in the first quarter. Justin Blackburn and Chase also contributed to the passing game with a combined three receptions for 17 yards.
On special teams, Kyle Gillis stood out with an average of 10 yards on a pair of kickoff returns. Meanwhile, Justin Blackburn and Josiah Jones handled kick returns efficiently, contributing valuable field position for the Torches.
Defensively, Kyle Gillis was a standout with an impressive 11 tackles, followed closely by Reed Chase with eight. Justin Blackburn added six stops, while Josiah Jones and Ian Anderson recorded five tackles a piece. Tucker Andrews tallied three tackles, Austin Sansing contributed two while Landn Ervin, Aaron Peters, and Alex Tank each added one stop. Justin Blackburn was responsible for the lone sack of the night for the Torches’ defense.
Jacksonville Christian’s Noah Lee emerged as the game’s standout performer, leading his team with a remarkable 202 passing yards. Lee completed 14-of-24 passes and was responsible for all four of Jacksonville’s touchdowns, showcasing his prowess as a signal caller.
With the victory, Jacksonville Christian improved to a perfect 4-0, while handing Tabernacle their first loss of the young season, falling to 0-1.
Looking ahead, the Torches will seek redemption on the road as they travel to Rainsville to face the Cornerstone Christian Eagles. The Thunder will welcome another CFA conference contender, Columbus, MS’s Victory Christian Academy, to Tommy Miller Field, where they aim to continue their winning streak and solidify their position as a force to be reckoned with in the Christian Football Association.