The last two Trinity football games have reaped very different results: one game ended with a close loss and the other ended in a total shutout.
The Tiger football team was edged 27-24 by Millsaps College (Miss.) on Saturday, Oct. 12, as the Majors kicked a 33-yard field goal with 12 seconds left to secure the win. This was the first time in 3 seasons Trinity lost to Millsaps. Â The Majors remain undefeated at 5-0, and now lead the series 20-17 between the former conference rivals.
â€œWhen you lose a game on a last-second field goal itâ€™s frustrating, especially against a team such as Millsaps. We let them stick around the entire game and, being such a young team, we are still trying to find our killer instinct to close out games. Even though it was a tough loss, I think it will give us some motivation to help us win out the rest of the year,â€ said sophomore tight end Sam Harford.
The Tigers lit up the board first as senior wide receiver Weslyn Wagner snagged a 9-yard TD pass from sophomore quarterback Stephen Smith early in the opening period. Millsaps evened it up as Zander Romano caught a 26-yarder from Zak Thrasher at 10:11 in the first quarter. Mike Barthelemy gave Millsaps a 14-7 lead on a short run shortly into the second quarter.
Junior wide receiver Matthew Kennemer hit a 21-yard field goal to make it 14-10 midway through the second. The Tigers then took the lead on an 80-yard bomb from Smith to Harford.
Harford and Smith connected on another scoring play, a 24-yard touchdown pass, as the Tigers extended their lead to 24-17 early in the third period. Barthelemy evened the game 24-24 for the Majors with a 49-yard touchdown run with 9:25 left on the clock.
Smith completed 13-26 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns. Â Harford caught three passes for 134 yards and a pair of scores. Senior running back Desmond King led the Tigersâ€™ ground game with 10 attempts for 65 yards. Kennemer chalked up 104 all-purpose yards, tying Canaan Factor (1996-1999) for a spot in the top-15 in all-purpose yards for a career.
Junior linebacker Connor Yorloff was the gameâ€™s leader in tackles, with 13, while junior defensive back J.P. Sanchez accounted for 12 total tackles and one pass breakup. Senior defensive lineman Bradley Drenon chalked up three QB hurries, and sophomore defensive back Camden Joubert intercepted a Millsaps pass.
â€œWeâ€™ve moved on from Millsaps; we canâ€™t dwell on something like that. A loss is a loss. Obviously it is tougher to chew when we feel like we had opportunities to win the game,â€ said assistant football coach Jeremy Gezella.
The Tigers then took on the Southwestern Pirates on Oct. 19, where the Tigers dominated the game with a score of 30-0. This marked the Tigersâ€™ first shutout victory of the 2013 season. The Tigers upped their record to 4-3 on the season, while the Pirates remained winless at 0-7.
â€œItâ€™s definitely a kind of vindication for us to get a shutout win after struggling these past couple of weeks. We knew the competition wasnâ€™t as strong this week as past weeks, but I definitely feel like this is a great confidence booster for the team, and it is a great representation of the potential we have as a team,â€ Kennemer said.
First-year kicker Kevin Wise booted three field goals â€” Â the most by a Trinity player this season â€” with the first being a 22-yarder, with 3:40 remaining in the opening period. The Tigers scored 21 points in the second quarter, starting with a 43-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Kennemer. With less than six minutes left in the half, Kennemer snagged a 20-yard touchdown pass from Smith, as Wise connected on both extra-point attempts.
First-year defensive lineman Austin Lee recovered a Southwestern fumble and returned the ball 85 yards for a touchdown, with eight seconds left on the first-half clock. Trinity led 24-0 at halftime.
In the second half, Wise continued on his streak when he kicked two 22-yard field goals in each of the final periods. He did not miss a single attempt in the game.
Smith completed 18-32 passes (one interception) for 262 yards and two touchdowns. It marked a team season high in single-game completions. Sophomore quarterback Garrett Swan connected on 6-8 passes for 54 yards.
Kennemer made seven receptions for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Kennemer also had six punt returns for 61 yards and rushed for nine yards. First-year kicker Francisco Ashford registered five punts for 217 yards, with the longest tallied at 54 yards.
Defensively, Sanchez and junior defensive lineman Tomy Boboy each chalked up seven tackles. Boboy, who had three unassisted tackles, accounted for one sack, and three and a half tackles for a loss of 10 yards. Junior linebacker Morgan Hix made six tackles, including four solo tackles, one and a half tackles for a loss and one QB hurry.
â€œAs a team, our primary goal obviously will be to come out with a win. We know Case Western will be a worthy opponent, so it will be a good challenge. Offensively we just need to be consistent and be more aggressive. Defensively I think we need to continue the trend that we set this Saturday. The defense has shown what they can do. Now they need to keep doing what is expected of them,â€ Kennemer said.
The Tigers travel to Cleveland, Ohio, on Oct. 26, for a match against Case Western Reserve.