Trinity didn’t need a miracle to take down Millsaps College at home on the fifth anniversary of the Mississippi Miracle. In fact, the Tigers never trailed the Majors in the game, enabling them to reach a solid 35-24 victory. Trinity is now 5-3 on the season with only two games left on their regular season schedule.
“We all feel like this game was our most complete game of the year thus far,” said assistant coach Jeremy Gezella. “We really did hit on all cylinders: offense, defense and special teams. Just a great effort overall — a win that our guys definitely deserve; they earned it.”
The carnival preceding the game along with the spirited organizations, such as the Stand Band and cheerleaders, helped generate more excitement for the big game, and the Tigers gave more reason for fans to cheer with the first touchdown in the first quarter by first-year running back Travis Williams, finishing off the drive with a one-yard rush.
“I felt like we came out really well in the first half,” said sophomore quarterback Mason Blaschke. “Offense was executing well, and defense was making stops, and that was maintained throughout the game to ultimately seal the deal.”
Millsaps tied it up in the second quarter, but Trinity again took the lead by running the ball on a nine-play, 73-yard drive headed by Blaschke. Before the half ended, Millsaps came up with a 31-yard field goal to make it 14-10.
“We kind of came out real fast and aggressive in the first half,” said senior linebacker Nick Darling. “We just really kept it up throughout the game. It definitely felt good to go into halftime up by a couple points. Coming out in the second half, I just think we knew we had to keep it going to get the win.”
The Tigers came out in the second half and scored quickly on eight plays with Blaschke’s 23-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Matt Kennemer. They quickly got the ball back but missed a field goal attempt to give Millsaps another shot. Once the defense got the Majors off the field, a quick three-play, 75-yard drive was completed with a Blaschke 48-yard touchdown run. Millsaps almost turned the momentum to their side with a long touchdown pass, but the Tigers responded with Kennemer’s 61-yard kickoff return that helped senior tight end Mason Lytal’s secure a touchdown catch.
In the fourth quarter, the Majors scored on their first drive; however, the teams were silent after that, leaving the Tigers with the 35-24 advantage.
“We have the pieces in place to be a very, very good football team,” Gezella said. “When we are able to pull together as a team and create some form of consistency we can be hard to stop. We really did everything well; we had some special teams plays that really changed the fate of a game. After our pre-game warm up we had a very good feeling about the focus of the guys, they gave us no doubt that they were ready to play. When the game started, all of our feelings were backed up by a great defensive effort with three straight three and outs.”
The Tiger defense continued to be relentless throughout the game, keeping the Majors to only 81 rushing yards in the game and giving the offense plenty of scoring opportunities.
“I thought it was definitely one of the better defensive performances all year,” Darling said. “Coming in, they were averaging quite a few points a game and they were averaging rushing a lot. We held them to 81 rushing yards, and keeping them 24 points is pretty good. I thought overall we definitely played awesome for that game.”
Senior linebackers Tom Puskarich, Darling and Phillip Hiner-Leamon led the defense with 10, nine and eight tackles, respectively. Hiner-Leamon recorded two for loss along with a sack and three quarterback hurries. He was named the SCAC Defensive Player of the Week.
The offense capitalized on the defensive attack and garnered 282 rushing yards in the 470 total-offensive-yard game.
“The O-Line did a very nice job,” Gezella said. “We moved the ball with a lot of efficiency. Our offense has a great dynamic of upper and underclassmen all across the board, and you can really tell when they push each other what it does for our success.”
Blaschke accounted for 221 rushing yards, becoming eighth in school history for a single game and holds the record for single game rushing yards by a quarterback. The SCAC Offensive Player of the Week was responsible for four touchdowns. Kennemer also had a high-powered game with 212 all-purpose yards, earning SCAC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
“I was happy with the offensive performance. We had checks for their blitzes, the line blocked great, and the receivers and backs made plays when they needed to be made — whether blocking down the field or making a great catch,” Blaschke said. “Defense got us the ball on every position, they kept [the offense] on the field and gave us opportunities to score. I think the result just shows how good a team we can be when we play together.”
Trinity will face off at noon tomorrow at Sewanee: the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. They will return home next weekend, Nov. 10 for their final home game against Austin College.