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#9 Trinity Football Impressive in Season-Opening Rout of Sul Ross

ACTION: #28 Justin Carmouche celebrates after scoring a touchdown

SAN ANTONIO – The ninth-ranked Trinity football team shook off a lightning delay of more than two hours to open the 2022 season with a dominating 55-7 victory over Sul Ross State University on Saturday night.

The Tigers piled up 541 yards of offense in the game, highlighted by a 300-yard passing day by Tucker Horn (Graham, Texas / Graham) and a three-touchdown night by running back Justin Carmouche (Cypress, Texas / Cy-Ranch).

Trinity's defense gave up just 155 yards of offense in the game – more than half of which came on the lone scoring drive of the night for the Lobos. The Tigers were especially stingy in the second half, holding Sul Ross to just 63 yards.

After scoring twice in the first quarter, Trinity added three more touchdowns in the second to take a 35-7 lead into the halftime break. The Tigers finished off the scoring with three more touchdowns in the third quarter to post the team's sixth 50-point game in the last 11 contests.

The Rundown

BJ Stewart (Shreveport, La. / Woodlawn) started the game off with a bang, setting the offense up with a 61-yard return on the opening kickoff. The Tigers stalled inside the 30 and turned the ball over on downs after just four quick plays.

Sul Ross had no success offensively, either, and was forced to punt after gaining just five yards on the first three plays. The Lobos bobbled the ensuing punt and Tyson Cornett (Marquez, Texas / Leon) was there for a big tackle for loss – the first of several stops for the Tiger sophomore on special teams.

Trinity scored just two plays later as Legend Grigsby (Houston, Texas / Cypress Creek) plowed through defenders and broke tackles on his way to an 18-yard touchdown run. Blake Lin (Tyler, Texas / All Saints) connected on the first of his seven successful extra-point tries to make it a 7-0 lead with less than four minutes elapsed in the game.

The Tiger defense forced another three-and-out, though this time Sul Ross got the punt away. Stewart then had another electrifying run – this time a 57-yard return for a score that was erased because of a Trinity penalty. That penalty took the momentum away and Trinity's offense stalled again inside the Sul Ross 30 yard line. The Lobos took the ensuing drive 40 yards, but failed on fourth down to give the ball back to the home team.

Horn completed a pair of passes for 33 yards to Cole Monago (Houston, Texas / Klein Cain) and then hit Carmouche for a 24-yard touchdown to make it a 14-0 game late in the quarter. Another drive for negative yards ended the quarter with another Sul Ross punt. Stewart's 21-yard return put the Tigers back inside the Lobos 30 to start the second quarter.

After converting on third-and-short early in the drive, Horn connected with Caleb Crawford (Houston, Texas / Strake Jesuit) from 25 yards out to finish off a scoring drive that took less than two minutes off the clock.

Sul Ross had its best drive of the night to answer the third Tiger score, beginning with a 44-yard strike through the air to set the visitors up inside the Trinity 40 yard line. The Lobos cashed in from 14 yards out to make it a 21-7 game with just over six minutes left in the half.

Trinity started in Sul Ross territory once again as Stewart had another huge return – this time for 41 yards. He also caught a 29-yard pass from Horn to convert on a fourth-and-seven, setting up Carmouche for his first rushing score from three yards out.

Another three-and-out for Sul Ross put the ball back in the hands of the Tigers, though a 51-yard punt and a penalty pushed the offense back to its own 22 yard line. Stewart and Austin Bertness (Richmond, Texas / Travis) both caught passes of 20+ yards on the ensuing 10-play, 78-yard drive that ended with Trinity taking a 35-7 lead with just 14 seconds left in the half. Johnny Milo (The Woodlands, Texas / Caney Creek) scored his first career touchdown on a three-yard run to cap the drive.

A near-interception by Trinity stopped a third-down play for Sul Ross to start the second half, then a 50-yard pass from Horn to Ryan Merrifield (Austin, Texas / Vandegrift) set up Carmouche for his third TD of the night. This one was a nine-yard run that finished a 69-yard drive that took just 61 seconds.

While penalties on the ensuing kickoff pushed Sul Ross deep in their own territory, a pair of penalties by the Tigers extended a drive that should have ended with a punt from the end zone. Sul Ross kept the ball for 12 plays because of it, but Trinity's defense allowed just 54 yards over that period and another near-interception on fourth down ended the extended drive.

Merrifield and Horn hooked up again for a long pass on the first play of the next drive, which ended up as a 63-yard touchdown for the Tigers, making it a 49-7 lead with more than four minutes still left in the third quarter. Backup quarterback Ryan Back (Austin, Texas / Vandegrift) came into the game for the final drive of the period and quickly put together what wound up as the final scoring sequence of the game. He hit Cornett for a pair of passes that covered 29 total yards, then found Merrifield for 13 yards out as time expired on the quarter.

Numbers to Note

Horn finished with 328 yards on 16-of-23 passing and three touchdowns, while Back completed all six of his pass attempts for 48 yards and another score.

Carmouche picked up 44 yards and three touchdowns on just five touches to lead the team in scoring, while Grigsby finished with a team-best 57 yards rushing and another score.

Merrifield finished with a career-high 126 yards receiving and tied his career-best with a pair of touchdowns. Tonight marked just his second career 100-yard game.

Stewart had 54 yards receiving on three catches, as well as topping out with 102 yards on a pair of kickoff returns. He finished with 181 all-purpose yards in the game.

Ezra Gore (McKinney, Texas / North) led the defense with seven solo stops and nine total tackles, while Michael Jewett (Houston, Texas / Strake Jesuit) had 1.5 tackles for loss among his five total tackles, and both Tiger players recorded a sack in the game.

Coach Speak

"First and foremost, what an incredible way to start the season," said Head Coach Jerheme Urban. "This was a total team effort as we took the field after such a long lightning delay and I really want to tip my hat to leaders on our football team who kept our emotions in check and our focus on point as we waited in the locker room. We came out ready to go and you saw that with the big opening kickoff return by BJ Stewart. I really thought that helped set a tone early for us, and after going through some first game growing pains, we were able to start playing some Tiger football. Tucker had a great start to the season, we saw some really good, physical running by our backs, o-line and wideouts all carried their weight, and we saw an incredible, collective effort on the defensive side of the ball as well. To hold an offense with that kind of talent in check was very impressive. I also want to tip my hat to our development team this past week as they began settling into that role, and they really brought it and prepared us for this kind of effort. Led by men like Jack Hogan, Cooper Adams, Jordan Jones, guys who epitomize what it is to be a Trinity Football Man, doing their part on the field and leading in practice is incredible, and no doubt a huge factor in this win."

"I also want to thank our entire support staff from top to bottom for working together and ensuring this was a great start to the season, especially with all of the hurdles they had to navigate with the weather this evening," Coach Urban continued. "They were incredible."

Up Next

Trinity will host Wheaton College (IL) in a marquee matchup in NCAA III football. The Tigers were ranked ninth in the D3football.com preseason poll, while Wheaton was one notch ahead as the #8 team in the country to start the year. The top-10 matchup will be at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 10.