Despite a strong start, the Tiger football team lost its Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference opener 42-38 against conference newcomer Texas Lutheran University on Saturday night. The loss is the first at home in the series with the Bulldogs since the 1976 season.
“Motivating after a loss can be challenging for your average team. We are not your average team; the culture here at Trinity is that we don’t lose, especially at home. Our guys are doing a great job of learning from our mistakes and moving forward,” said assistant coach Jeremy Gezella.
Both teams got off to a fast start, but the Tigers took a 17-7 lead after the opening quarter. After Texas Lutheran cut it to 17-14, Trinity bounced back just nine seconds later on a 65-yard touchdown play to keep a 10-point lead. The Tigers then finished the first half of the game by scoring a 99-yard drive that followed a goal line stand to make the score 31-14 at halftime.
TLU bounced back at the start of the second half, starting with a pair of scoring drives to make the score 31-28 heading into the fourth quarter. Trinity seemed to reclaim their momentum with another goal line as the final quarter began, but TLU forced a punt and needed just 38 yards on the go-ahead scoring drive that followed.
Trinity quickly regained the advantage with its first scoring drive of the second half, but the Bulldogs used a 13-play drive on their next possession to score again with just over five minutes remaining.
The final drive for the Tigers started with a 52-yard pass play, but a game-saving tackle at the 22-yard line kept Trinity from the end zone. The Texas Lutheran defense held on the next four plays, and then finished the game with a pair of first downs.
“A game is generally decided on about five plays throughout the game and you don’t know when those will appear. We didn’t capitalize on those plays in the second half. TLU did,” said assistant coach Brant McAdams ’06.
Sophomore defensive back Travis Williams led the Tiger rushing attack with 95 yards on 18 carries, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the game. Although the loss was disappointing, the Tigers are motivated for their upcoming game this weekend.
“When you start the season you have one goal set in your mind and that is to win it all. So even after a close loss like we had last week, we know that our goal is still achievable and the only way to reach it is by looking towards the next game and learning from our mistakes,” Williams said.
Junior quarterback Robert Broyles was 15-34 for 344 yards and three touchdowns through the air for the Tigers, connecting with junior wide receiver Matthew Kennemer more than any other receiver. Kennemer finished with seven receptions for 178 yards. Senior wide receiver Weslyn Wagner, sophomore wide receiver Cody Sandman and senior wide receiver Hagen Kattner all caught touchdowns in the game, with Wagner coming on a 65-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter.
Junior linebacker James Hix finished with a team-best 12 tackles for Trinity, while junior linebacker Connor Yorloff added 11 stops of his own.
“The last two weeks we have been very inconsistent, so we really need to focus on playing Tiger football for four quarters,” Yorloff said.
Trinity will host Sul Ross State University at 1 p.m. tomorrow.