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Football suffers unexpected loss over weekend

Defensive back Von’Darrick Jones leaps over a Rhodes College player during a home game on Sept. 29. Photo by Anh-Viet Dinh.

The Trinity football team’s road trip to Centre College last weekend produced an uninvited result as the Tigers fell to the Colonels 31-14. The Tigers put up a strong performance at Centre’s homecoming but were unable to save the game with several turnovers. The loss represents the third of the season for the Tigers, now 4-3 overall.

“Overall it was disappointing,” said assistant coach Jason Guthrie. “Not a lot to say, we came out and scored first but didn’t execute well enough throughout the rest of the came to win. We had a good week of preparation, just didn’t execute.”

Starting off strong in the first quarter, the Tigers put up the first score of the game late in the period; however, the Colonels matched the score with a touchdown of their own.

In the second quarter, Centre added another to go up 14-7, which would lead them into halftime.

“We came out and executed our first couple of drives rather well,” said sophomore quarterback Mason Blaschke. “Pending a few plays here and there that set us back a little, offensive wise; while the defense did their job of maintaining their offense in the first half.”

The momentum fed into the second half when Centre again scored to go up by 14 before the Tigers could get another touchdown late in the third quarter.

The effort to turn it back around slipped out of Trinity’s hands as the fourth quarter brought Centre a touchdown and a field goal to finalize the game.

“We’d drive on them very steadily and consistently down the field only to stop ourselves with a turnover,” said senior running back Patrick Granchelli. “Meaning we hardly punted at all and if we didn’t make stupid mistakes to stop ourselves, we would have scored almost every drive.”

The Tiger offense generated 343 yards but could not execute with scores as three of their four interceptions were in Centre’s zone.

“Last year we had one interception in the first nine games,” Guthrie said. “This year we have eight. This can happen because of a lack of focus, misreads, but we are also throwing the ball more this year, so as you increase attempts, you increase the possibility of interceptions. But almost every interception we have, there is one thing that someone could have done to avoid it. Offensively we had some bright spots, some decent individual performances, but overall, just not enough.”

Blaschke led the Tigers in passing, completing 9-14 for 121 yards, and rushing, garnering 68 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries – totaling 189 yards. Senior quarterback Nyk McKissic threw 9-13 for 86 yards. First-year running back Travis Williams had 53 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. First-year wide receiver and SCAC Offensive Player of the Week Cody Sandman grabbed five receptions for 69 yards, while sophomore wide receiver and SCAC Special Teams Player of the Week Matt Kennemer caught four to get 35 yards. He totaled 116 all-purpose yards and 58 yards punting. Senior tight end Mason Lytal had 47 yards on three receptions.

“We left a lot of potential points on the field,” Blaschke said. “Something our coach has stressed. At least three of our turnovers, from what I remember, were on their side of the field, so we were in close range of scoring and made some mistakes that hurt us.”

The defense worked to protect the end zone, but with the turnovers they were unable to keep Centre quieter than they intended to as they allowed 377 yards overall.

“I thought the defense played well,” Blaschke said. “We [the offense] didn’t help them out by not scoring on several drives and left Centre with a lot of momentum that I thought they fed off of well.”

Sophomore defensive back Jai Boatman had 12 stops – eight solo – to lead the defense as he did the previous weekend. Boatman was named SCAC Defensive Player of the Week. Junior defensive back Von’Darrick Jones followed with nine tackles as senior defensive lineman Phillip Hiner-Leamon and first-year defensive back Caleb Green each added on seven. Junior defensive back Chris Hobbs had three solo tackles and an interception.

“Basically, injuries are preventing us from playing to our potential,” said junior defensive lineman Justin Crow. “A majority of our upper class D-line, myself included, can’t play due to injury and it’s killing us. The D-line is the heart of our defense and with it weakened the way it is, we’re going to struggle.”

Despite the loss, the Tigers plan on taking it as a learning experience and refocusing for a big home game against Millsaps College, which marks the fifth anniversary of the Miracle in Mississippi.

“We just have to execute. Whether it’s going from week one to two or week seven to eight, we have to strive to get better and cut out those mistakes that hurt us,” Guthrie said. “[Millsaps] is a really good football team. We must clean up the mistakes we had last week, play physical and take care of the football. If we do that, we can be competitive.”

The Tigers kick off to host the Millsaps College Majors at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow.

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