By Jim Bratton
With points from both its offensive and defensive units, Zion Christian had a successful home opener Friday night, dominating the Memphis Nighthawks for a 36-0 victory.
After fumbling on their opening possession, the Eagles got on the board with 3:27 left in the first quarter, when quarterback Luke Perko scampered into the end zone from 3 yards out. A two-point conversion pass from Perko to Josh Harrison would give Zion an 8-0 lead.
Zion got on the board again a little later, when a nine-yard run from Logan Abbott would give the Eagles a 15-0 lead after the extra point at the 10:49 mark of the second quarter. Later in the second quarter, Perko connected with Max Brown on a 39-yard touchdown pass with 7:05 left to play in the half.
Padding the 22-0 halftime lead, Perko added his second touchdown pass of the night — a 6-yarder to Wesley Riggins — less than four minutes into the third period.
Zion’s defense closed out the scoring two plays later, as Burcham Bain turned in a 13-yard scoop-and-score following a Nighthawks fumble.
“All week, we’ve been preparing to try to win on all three facets; special teams, offense, and defense,” said Zion coach Brad Lowery. “And tonight’s the first night that we’ve put it all together. And we’ve just got to build on positive things that we’ve done.
“The last couple of weeks, we’ve had opportunities, but we’ve shot ourselves in the foot. We’ve turned the ball over or we’ve made some mental mistakes. Tonight we were able to overcome some of those and make some plays.”
Perko, who threw for 104 yards — completing 4 of 10 passes — has a heightened sense of confidence in his team as they move forward into next week’s matchup with Sale Creek.
“I gained confidence in myself and my teammates. O-line, d-line dominated on the ball, gave us opportunities to score. It was all thanks to them,” Perko said.
Zion Chr. 36, Memphis Nighthawks 0
at Holcomb Field
Z 8 14 14 0 — 36
N 0 0 0 0 — 0
Z — Luke Perko 3 rush (3:27), Joshua Harrison pass from Perko
Z — Logan Abbott 9 rush (10:49), Wesley Riggins kick
Z — Max Brown 39 pass from Perko (7:05), Riggins kick
Z — Riggins 6 pass from Perko (8:15), kick failed
Z — Burcham Bain 40 fumble recovery (7:07), Davis Duffy pass from Perko
First downs 5 8
Rushes-yards 23-76 20-219
Passing yards 63 104
Comps-Atts-Ints 4-11-2 4-10-1
Penalties-yards 8-68 6-65
Fumbles-lost 7-3 1-1
Memphis Nighthawks — Baylor Albritton 6-(-8), Braylon Cato 9-76, Aaron Haas 8-8
Zion Chr. — Luke Perko 9-145, Sam Duffy 3-21, Sam Sullivan 2-17, Logan Abbott 1-9, Josh Harrison 2-22, Jaron Keyser 3-5
Memphis Nighthawks — Baylor Albritton 4-11-2, 63
Zion Chr. — Luke Perko 4-10-1, 104
Memphis Nighthawks — Braylon Cato 1-12, Sebastian Denham 2-21, Simeon Davis 1-30
Zion Chr, — Sam Duffy 2-59, Wesley Riggins 1-6, Max Brown 1-39