The Tiger football team started their 2017 campaign with a tough loss to 25th-ranked University of Redlands on Saturday, Sept. 1. Around 60 members of the team geared up and traveled to Redlands, California for the opening game. The Tigers had a long trip to The Golden State; they had a three hour flight into Los Angeles and a three hour bus ride into Redlands.

“The traveling was a blast,” said junior offensive lineman Joel Holmes. “Being together with the 50-60 guys that travel for each flight, bus ride, meeting and team meal helps us bond and grow closer, which improves team chemistry and will lead to more success down the road.”

Redlands struck first on a turnover that lead to a touchdown pass a few plays later, snagging the early 6-0 lead. A long field goal gave Redlands the 9-0 lead after the first quarter. Redlands heated up during the second quarter and headed into halftime with a 22-0 lead.

“We got unlucky and couldn’t get things to click at the beginning of the game, but we saw improvement and things started to click a bit more as the game went on,” said senior defensive lineman Alejandro Anzaldua. “Once we finally click, I think it’ll be hard to stop our offense.”

The Tigers held Redlands to a single field goal in the third quarter, but Redlands responded quickly with a 30-yard touchdown run in the beginning of the fourth quarter.

“The biggest problem we faced during this game was execution,” Holmes said. “Mental mistakes, penalties and lack of focus caused our failed executions and that will cost you against a team as talented as Redlands.”

With a few minutes left on the clock in the fourth quarter, first-year quarterback Wyatt Messex ran the ball in to score a 39-yard touchdown and avoid the shutout.

“I think the guys did a great job of remaining resilient. A series of unfortunate events led us to facing a steep deficit, however, there was never a moment during the game when we didn’t feel we could rally back into it,” Holmes said.

Messex led the team in rushing and went 3-4 for 19 yards passing. Senior Jayden Holden finished with 33 yards on two receptions, leading the team with 33 receiving yards. Defensively, the Tigers were led by senior Mitch Globe and junior Robert Kuhne. Globe led the Tigers with 12 tackles, while Kuhne racked up 10 tackles. Offensively, Trinity was plagued by four turnovers and managed less than 200 yards of offense during the game.

The Tigers switched from the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) to the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) this year, so this is the Tigers first season in the new conference. The SAA is loaded with teams from many states in the south, including Berry College, Birmingham-Southern College, Hendrix College, and Sewanee: University of the South. The Tigers will have to travel out of the state four more times this season – they’ll be visiting Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia. While some teams might view the traveling as difficult, the Tigers see it as a way to prepare for the post season.

“The more you do it, the easier it gets. We know that, in order to win a conference championship, we’ll have to win on the road,” Holmes said.

“I think we have a great coaching staff that will help us manage time throughout the week so we can focus on the game and decrease the stress of traveling,” Anzaldua said.

This loss is not going to slow down the Tigers. If anything, this game was an eye-opener, and will help the team pinpoint exactly what they need to work on over the next few weeks of practice.

“The guys on this team are great at responding to adversity, and how we attack this season going forward will show who the Trinity Tigers truly are,” Holmes said.

The Tigers will travel to Jackson, Mississippi to square off against Millsaps College on Saturday, Sept. 16. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. You can watch the game online on the Millsaps College website.