Heading into their final game of the season tomorrow, the Tiger football team desperately wants to cap the year on a high note. This past weekendâ€™s 20-7 loss to Southwestern snapped a 2 game winning streak. While the Tigers were disappointed, they had many positive takeaways, and are optimistic as they look ahead to their final game of the season at home.
Two weeks ago, the Tigers were able to snap a three game losing streak against conference opponent Austin College. They were able to easily dispose of the Roos, winning 38 to 17. This win saw each unit rise to the occasion. The special teams were able to recover an onside kick, the defense only allowed 61 yards passing, and the offense showed improvement in the passing and rushing game. Colby Doyal has been a bright spot on the special teams all season, and during this game he was able to set a career record on a 47 yard field goal. Colby feels that this win against Austin College has the team feeling good coming into their second matchup on the Tigersâ€™ home turf.
â€œThis last game will set the tone going into the offseason and the beginning of next year. We want to end the year on a positive note and carry on the momentum. It is also the seniors last home game and we just want to honor them and all the hard work they put into this program,â€ Doyal said.
The next week, the Tigers captured victory in a thriller, as they were able to mount a major comeback against conference rival, Texas Lutheran University. The Tigers came back from a 20 to 7 deficit, scoring 21 points in the second half, earning them a 28 to 27 win. The offense was headed by Davis King and Justin Ventura, who both had significant offensive impacts in the game. Davis King has filled in nicely for injured senior quarterback Austin Grauer. King has averaged just over 100 yards passing a game, and has made sound contributions in these two wins for Trinity. He is proud of the contributions from first-years, both on the field and off.
â€œWe had some great retention from last yearâ€™s class, even though they were a lot smaller of a recruiting class than in years prior. I hope to say the same about this yearâ€™s freshmen class, and I think we will. They are a great group of guys who are doing exceptional work not only on the field, but also in the classroom and on our campus,â€ King said.
King also spoke to the teamâ€™s issues with injuries, and the role back-ups have played in patching up the holes.
â€œAnother takeaway is that we learned we have a high number of underclassmen who are ready to step up when we face injury. To name a few, sophomore quarterback Justin Ventura went from starting the season as a third-string and running the scout team, to spending time at starting quarterback. At running back, first-year Zach Trevino and Griffin Lay both started off on scout team early in the season and had to step up when Evan McDowell went down midway through the season,â€œ King said.
This last loss against Southwestern was tough, but for Luke Packard, it was a milestone game. Packard was able to set a single-season sack record that had held strong for 23 years. Paul Tobola previously held the record, and was selected to All-American team in 1993. Packard finished the game with eight total tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks for a loss of 11 yards.
There have been many bright spots during this 2016 campaign, but the brightest has to be the fighting effort and persistence this team has displayed. There were injuries to some very key players on both sides of the ball in the middle of the season, but this team made no excuses for themselves. Head coach Jerheme Urban emphasized the next man up philosophy a few weeks back, and it paid off in their two game win streak prior to this last weekâ€™s loss.
â€œWeâ€™ve had several of our very experienced players suffer some pretty significant injuries this year. Part of any successful football season, at any level of football, is not having the injury bug bite you. It has impacted us by pulling some guys off the field, but it has also given other guys an opportunity to show what they can do. Injuries cannot be used as an excuse,â€ Urban said.
Urban stressed the fact that all everyone was recruited, and needs a ready-to-go mindset
â€œEveryone that we have recruited has a valuable role on our team, and is expected to be ready when called upon. There are times where a lack of experience shows, or even a lack of physical development when playing young guys against older college players, but none of that matters,â€ Urban said.
The Tigerâ€™s hope to power through late season injury woes in this weekâ€™s matchup. At a record 4-5, the Tigers will be playing for a .500 record in the last game of the season against Austin College. It will be their last game as a part of the SCAC, at 1 p.m. on Saturday.