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No. 5/6 Trinity Football Storms Past Centre to Remain Undefeated

ACTION: #19 Caleb Crawford delivers a stiff-arm to the helmet of the defender coming in from the left to try to tackle him

DANVILLE, Ky. – The No. 5/6 Trinity football team remained undefeated atop the Southern Athletic Association standings with a 41-21 road victory over Centre College on Saturday afternoon.

Trinity improved to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in SAA play with the win, while Centre dropped to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in conference. The Tigers overcame a 14-0 first-quarter deficit to rally for the win, outscoring the Colonels 41-7 over the final three quarters.

Quarterback Tucker Horn (Graham, Texas / Graham) completed 29-of-46 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns in the game, setting new career highs in both completions and attempts for a game. It also marked his third 300-yard passing game of the season. Caleb Crawford (Houston, Texas / Strake Jesuit) had six receptions for a career-high 77 yards and a third-quarter touchdown that put Trinity up by 10 points at the time.

Malik Ross (San Antonio, Texas / Jay) put Trinity in front for good with a 67-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the second quarter. The defense held Centre to just 262 yards of offense that included a mere 77 yards rushing. The Tigers also had two interceptions in the game as All-American linebacker Caleb Harmel (Burton, Texas / Burton) finished with a team-best six tackles also picked off a pass in the second half of the game.

Trinity will continue its bid to repeat as SAA Champion with another road test at Millsaps College next week. The Tigers will play back-to-back road games for the first time this season in Jackson, Mississippi, and are scheduled to kickoff at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 5.

The Rundown

Trinity converted a pair of third downs on the opening drive of the game, moving inside the Centre 30 before stalling. The Tigers went for it on fourth down, but a sack by the Colonels ended the 11-play drive without any points.

Centre's first drive also saw minimal success and Trinity was back on offense after just five plays, albeit pinned inside their own 20 yard line. The Tigers were stopped on another sack on third down and a 17-yard return on the ensuing punt set the home team up just 38 yards from the end zone.

The Colonels went deep on the first play of the drive, scoring on a 38-yard pass play down the middle of the field to take a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. A short kickoff return backed Trinity up inside the 15 yard line this time, and Horn had a screen pass tipped and then intercepted at the 10. Centre was on the scoreboard again just two plays later to take a 14-0 lead with 2:45 left in the quarter.

It was all Trinity after that in the first half, as the Tigers came to life in all phases of the game. It started with a 10-play scoring drive to get Trinity on the board with a 33-yard field goal from Blake Lin (Tyler, Texas / All Saints) that made it a 14-3 game early in the second quarter.

The Tiger defense forced a three-and-out on the next three drives by the Colonels, and the Trinity offense finally used that to its advantage late in the half. Horn hit Will Taylor (Houston, Texas / Strake Jesuit) on a short pass across the middle to start the drive, then Taylor turned it into a 35-yard gain down to the Centre 16. Horn then connected with Ryan Merrifield (Austin, Texas / Vandergrift) on the next play to give Trinity its first touchdown of the day, cutting the deficit to just 14-10 with just under three minutes left in the half.

Centre finally got its offense moving on the next drive, pushing down inside the Trinity 30 with just over a minute left in the second quarter. That's when Ross stepped in front of a short pass attempt by the Colonels, snatching the ball out of the air at the 33 yard line and returning the interception 67 yards for a go-ahead score. That gave the Tigers a 17-14 lead at halftime.

The second half began with another three-and-out for Centre and Trinity took over at its own 22 yard line. Despite a sack early in the drive, Trinity made its way to midfield when Legend Grigsby (Houston, Texas / Cypress Creek) bounced to the outside and rushed for a 50-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers a 10-point cushion less than five minutes into the third quarter.

The ensuing kickoff bounced down the sideline and out of bounds, though, setting Centre up at the 35 yard line for its next drive. A key third-down conversion near midfield kept the drive going, then after a pass interference penalty on the Tigers, the Colonels went for the trick play. A flee-flicker resulted in a 39-yard touchdown pass to make it a 24-21 game after a drive of just over three minutes.

Trinity went three-and-out on its next drive, then as Centre pressured the ensuing punt and forced a short kick, the Colonels had taken all the momentum in the game after taking over near midfield. Instead, Harmel was able to snag his first interception of the year to swing things back in favor of the Tigers. The offense took full advantage with a lightning-quick four-play drive that included back-to-back catches from Crawford on the last two plays. Crawford's first was an 18-yard pass play on third down, followed immediately by a 29-yard strike in which he beat the defense down the sideline for a wide-open touchdown. That put Trinity back in front by double figures at 31-21 with 4:08 left in the quarter.

The Tiger defense forced another three-and-out on the next Centre drive, putting the offense back on the field late in the third quarter. Justin Carmouche (Cypress, Texas / Cy-Ranch) converted a third-and-one with a 27-yard rush that he bounced out to the left sideline and powered his way down inside the 20. Trinity stalled after the long run, though BJ Rainey (Cedar Hill, Texas / Cedar Hill) nearly had a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, but he was just out of bounds on the catch. The Tigers settled for a career-long 35-yard field goal from Lin, making it a 34-21 lead less than a minute into the final quarter.

The defense stood tall once again for Trinity on the next drive, forcing a negative-yardage drive that forced Centre to punt from inside its own 20. The Tigers drove to near midfield before punting for field position, and pinning the Colonels back at their own 11. After a big first-down run, Centre was stuffed by Trinity's defense on the next three plays to force another punt.

Trinity took over with 5:59 left in the game and essentially finished off the win with an 11-play drive that chewed up nearly five minutes off the clock. The end of the drive made it all the more decisive as Horn found Matthew Kovacevich (Friendswood, Texas / Friendswood) for a six-yard touchdown play to put a bow on the win for the Tigers.  

Numbers to Note

Grigsby finished with 71 yards rushing on eight carries, including his 50-yard touchdown that gives him six rushing scores this season. Carmouche also had 53 yards on the ground as the duo helped the Tigers to a 140 total rushing yards in the game.

BJ Stewart (Shreveport, La. / Woodlawn) finished with eight catches for 72 yards, while Taylor caught three passes for 59 yards receiving.

Merrifield's 14th career touchdown reception ties him for a spot in the top 15 in school history.

Trinity's defense has allowed less than 100 yards rushing in seven of its eight games played this season. The only game the Tigers allowed more than 100 yards rushing was last week against Berry, though the defense did hold the Vikings to just 72 yards passing in that game.

Coach Speak
"Phenomenal team win in what has historically been a difficult place to play," said Head Coach Jerheme Urban. "We have a very rich, 28-year history with these guys and that energy was felt from the opening kickoff. I'm really proud of the unity and resiliency that we played with, and the amount of poise as well in the early going. We had huge plays from all three phases, from Malik's pick-six, to Will Taylor having a strong catch and run that I felt was a huge energy boost for offense, Legend Grigsby's long touchdown run, Caleb Harmel's interception, and Blake and Eli were clutch in the kicking game."
 
"I am also very thankful that Dr. Beasley and her husband, Trey, were able to make the trip and support us as well," continued Coach Urban. "No one in the country gets to travel like we do in terms of our conference flight trips, and the value with which Trinity places in our student-athletes is further shown when your president takes a long road trip to support you as well. I get to coach special dudes, at a special institution, with special leadership…it's a great time to be a Trinity Tiger!"
Up Next

Trinity will be back on the road against next week to face off against Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. The game is scheduled for a noon kickoff on Saturday, November 5. The Tigers will return home for the regular season finale against Sewanee: University of the South on Saturday, November 12.