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Last-Second Touchdown Lifts #5/6 Trinity Football Past Birmingham-Southern

ACTION: #18 Carter Self races to the end zone for the game-winning score, while #3 of Birmingham-Southern chases him

SAN ANTONIO – After falling behind with just over a minute left, the fifth-ranked Trinity football team bounced back with a last-gasp game-winning touchdown with just 13 seconds left to take a 23-20 win over Birmingham-Southern College on Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers improved to 5-0 overall this season and 2-0 in Southern Athletic Association play, while Birmingham-Southern drops to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in conference play.

Carter Self (North Richland Hills, Texas / Birdville) caught a 43-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-five from Tucker Horn (Graham, Texas / Graham) to secure the win. It was only the second catch of the game for Self and the third touchdown thrown by Horn for the Tigers. Horn finished his day with 322 yards passing, completing 23-of-32 through the air.

Birmingham-Southern scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:07 remaining to take its first lead of the game. The Panthers settled for a short field goal midway through the fourth quarter to cut the Trinity lead to just 17-13, then forced the Tigers to go three-and-out on offense to set up the go-ahead score.

BJ Stewart (Shreveport, La. / Woodlawn) returned the ensuing kickoff 26 yards, setting up the Tiger offense at the 36 yard line with just 58 seconds to play. Trinity gained just 10 yards on two short completions to start the drive, then after spiking it to stop the clock and an incomplete pass, the team faced third-and-10 from near midfield. Horn hit Stewart for a five-yard completion that led to a timeout by Trinity with just 21 seconds left. That set up the final offensive play for Trinity, as Self beat the defense down the middle of the field for the winning score.

Caleb Harmel (Burton, Texas / Burton) led Trinity with 11 tackles in the game and the defense held BSC to just 69 yards rushing. Trinity has not allowed a team to rush for 100 yards yet this season.

Trinity will be back at home in two weeks against Berry College for another SAA home game, kicking off at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 22. Prior to that, the Tigers will face off against Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., at Noon on Saturday, October 15.

The Rundown

Neither team did much with their opening drives, but the Tigers did strike first after a short punt by the Panthers. Trinity drove 59 yards in just five plays, capped by a 17-yard touchdown pass from Horn to Ryan Merrifield (Austin, Texas / Vandergrift). Birmingham-Southern answered immediately with a 92-second drive to tie the game, using a pair of plays of 30+ yards to fuel the drive.

The ensuing Trinity drive lasted just over six minutes and took the game into the second quarter. The Tigers drove 55 yards, but stalled inside the 10 yard line and settled for a 25-yard field goal from Blake Lin (Tyler, Texas / All Saints) to make it a 10-7 game.

The Tiger defense forced a three-and-out on the next drive and the offense took over after a touchback. Trinity drove down near the red zone and set up for another field goal – this time from 39 yards out. This time the field goal missed to the left and Birmingham-Southern took over at their own 22 yard line. The Panthers drove 69 yards on 11 plays before tying the game with a 26-yard field goal with just over a minute left in the half.

The two teams chewed up half of the third quarter before Trinity was able to regain the lead with a quick five-play drive that ended with Horn hitting Caleb Crawford (Houston, Texas / Strake Jesuit) for a 19-yard scoring strike.

After another three-and-out by Birmingham-Southern, the Tigers put together another fruitful drive as the game neared the end of the third quarter. On first-and-goal from the nine, though, BSC stepped in front of a potential touchdown pass for an interception that kept it a one-score game at 17-10.

Neither team did much early in the fourth, but Birmingham-Southern took over with 11:22 remaining and promptly marched down the field in hopes of tying the game. The visitors had first-and-goal from the 10, but then had to kick a 22-yard field goal after gaining just five yards on the next three plays.

Birmingham-Southern's defense came up big on the next drive, pushing Trinity back with a pair of sacks to force a punt on fourth-and-21. The Panthers took over at their own 40 with 4:41 to play. Seven plays later, BSC scampered into the end zone from a yard out to take its first lead of the game at 20-17.

That set Trinity up for the game-winning drive in the final minute.

Numbers to Note

Self had two catches for 74 yards in the game and the game-winning score was also his first career touchdown reception.

Horn eclipsed 4,000 career passing yards in the game, which was also his fourth career 300-yard passing game. He also moved past 1,000 yards passing this season, becoming the ninth player in school history to put up multiple 1,000-yard seasons through the air.

Merrifield led the Tigers with seven receptions for 85 yards, becoming the 31st player in school history to pass 1,000 career receiving yards.

Justin Carmouche (Cypress, Texas / Cy-Ranch) led the way for the Tiger rushing attack with 56 yards on 10 carries, while the team finished with 111 yards rushing overall. He also had three passes for 27 yards to finish with 83 all-purpose yards in the game.

Eli Gehman (Cedar Park, Texas / Leander) punted five times for 213 yards in the game, sailing a pair of 50-yard kicks through the air. His average of 42.6 yards per punt is ranked 21st in school history for a single game.

Crawford finished the game with six catches for 69 yards, and Ethan Boyer (Greenville, N.C. / J.H. Rose) caught one pass for 22 yards to convert on third-and-10 in the third quarter of play.

Stewart finished with a team-best 96 all-purpose yards, finishing with 25 yards receiving, 14 yards on punt returns, and 57 yards on a pair of kickoff returns.

Coach Speak

"Championship level football game versus a championship level team," said Head Coach Jerheme Urban after the dramatic win. "I'll talk about our guys here in a second, but first I really want to tip my hat to Coach White and the men of BSC football. They are such a class group, they are truly whistle to whistle competitors, and they are 100% a playoff worthy program. Incredible fight, playmakers in all three phases, just a really good football team. 

With that being acknowledged, I now need to brag on my guys for their unity and resilience. We missed some opportunities to maybe put the game away, watched BSC make some tremendous plays and take the lead, and then from the sideline to the field, I felt our guys never waver in the biggest moment of adversity that we've faced all the year- a two minute drive with the game on the line. We drill it every week, and our guys stayed calm, didn't let the moment be too big for them, stayed within the scheme and executed the final play to perfection. I am so proud of our guys for stepping up and making plays, and when coverage took away Ryan (Merrifield) and BJ (Stewart) on the last offensive play, it was Carter Self doing his job that won us the football game. Tucker didn't try to force it, went perfectly through his read, trusted the protection, delivered the ball where it needed to go, and Carter made a phenomenal play. I could talk for days on Carter and his resiliency through injury and patiently waiting his turn, and I'm so excited that he was able to get the opportunity that he had today. I could echo that same sentiment for Ethan Boyer who hopped in on a last second substitution and made a HUGE conversion with a third-down catch on a touchdown drive, AZ Anderson filling in on defense in times of need, Legend Grigsby on a big return when they kicked away from BJ, and the list goes on. 

Obviously I'm pretty fired up and there are so many that deserve praise tonight, but at the end of the day that was a full team win, from the sideline to the field, and I couldn't be more proud of them and their fight. We'll enjoy it for 24 hours, and then we have to turn our attention to traveling to Memphis and playing against a very improved Rhodes team that will work hard and have a great plan for us as well."

Up Next

Trinity will be on the road for just the second time this season, facing off against Rhodes College on Saturday, October 15, in Memphis, Tenn.