With the 10-7 victory against Austin College last Saturday, 22 seniors on the Trinity University football ended their careers with a victory against a tough conference opponent.
“Austin College is always a very tough place to play, especially at the end of the year,” said head football coach Jerheme Urban. “In the history of the rivalry, playing in Sherman is always a tough place to win.”
Knowing that Austin College is a tough road test, the Tigers wanted to get off to a quick start against their conference foe.
On the first drive of the game, junior quarterback Austin Grauer led Trinity on a 14 play, 76 yard drive that stalled out at the Austin College four- yard line. The Trinity special teams capped off the long drive by successfully connecting with a 21-yard field goal off the foot of sophomore kicker Colby Doyal.
After kickoff by Doyal, Austin College went three plays and out on their first drive of the game. In fact, the Austin College Kangaroos were held to only two total yards of offense during their eight possessions in the first half, courtesy of the Tiger defense. The Tigers were able to extend their lead further when senior running back Jeremy Simmons caught a pass from Grauer taking it in for an eight yard score with 57 seconds left to go in the second quarter.
Simmons had a very productive game for the Tigers rushing the ball 26 times for 109 yards while also leading the team with five total receptions for the game. This was the fifth time this season that Simmons had rushed for over 100 yards in a game.
Simmons, who was an National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III second team preseason All-American and one of the 16 Tigers named to the All-SCAC teams, compiled 984 rushing yards on the season, along with catching 243 receiving yards coming out of the backfield.
Helping pave the way for Simmons’ productive season was Division III first team preseason All-American and first team All-SCAC senior offensive lineman Frankie Arndt. Arndt, who also happens to be one of the captains for the team, was especially pleased with the production coming out of the backfield this season, noting that the results displayed the success the team encountered this season, specifically on the offensive side of the ball.
“[Simmons] is a workhorse. I love blocking for him. We have Travis Williams as well, another senior running back. Both of them have just been phenomenal,” Arndt said.
Williams’ talent was recognized nationally as well, when he was named as a Division III preseason All-American honorable mention.
“Having two backs in the backfield like that really makes my job easy,” Arndt said. “[Simmons’] five games of 100-plus yards of rushing really speaks to how aggressive our offensive line has been.”
Unlike the two senior Tiger running backs, both of whom found success running the ball during the game, the senior Austin College running back Madison Ross, who happens to be the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) leader in rushing yards this season, was unable to break through the Tiger’s line of defense. Madison carried the ball 10 times for 10 yards and also caught one reception, where he was tackled for a six yard loss by Trinity senior defensive back Jai Boatman.
Urban emphasized the significance of the defense limiting the Austin College running back’s production, stating that the Trinity defense held him about 100 yards below his average for rushing yards per game. The ineffectiveness of the running game for Austin College made it difficult for Austin College to find any offensive rhythm, thus limiting their ability to drive the ball down the field for most of the game.
In fact, the Trinity defense held Austin College without a first down for the entire first half and only allowed 135 yards of total offense for the entire game.
Sophomore linebacker Mitch Globe, another Tiger named to the All-SCAC team, believes the emotions of wanting to send the seniors off with a victory and the team bond helped lead the Tigers to victory.
“I think the defense was able to [have a dominating performance against Austin College] because of all the chemistry that we have built up before the game,” Globe said. “Everyone just felt connected as a team.”
The Tiger defense shutting down the Austin College offense throughout the game was not an outlier; they have been posting similar results over the course of the season, which is one reason why the Tiger defense is ranked as one of the top defensive teams in Division III football.
“Our defense is number two red zone defense in the country, number three in the country in rushing defense, number 21 in turnovers gained and number 19 overall,” Urban said.
The success of the defense this season can be attributed to the familiarity that the starters have with one another after many of the players started alongside one another last season. That familiarity continued to develop and a stronger chemistry grew as the season went along.
Tiger fans can expect that bond to only grow stronger as most of the defensive starters will be returning next season for their senior or junior seasons.
“We have big goals and aspirations, and we are already talking about them,” Globe said. “We want to be a top-five defense in the nation. I think we have that caliber definitely, if not the best defense in the nation. It’s exciting to see. We have a lot of the guys coming back.”
The Tigers look to improve upon their 8-2 record next season, but they cannot help but feel appreciative of what they have already accomplished this season, especially with their 4-0 record on the road.
“I was very proud of my guys all year. We traveled extremely well,” Urban said. “We were undefeated on the road (and we were the) only team in our conference to win every game on the road.”
Arndt echoed Urban’s statements stressing that there are not many teams that play collegiate football that can say they were undefeated on the road in any division in the NCAA.
“That’s an accomplishment we are definitely going to hang our hats on,” Arndt said.
Having a top-ranked defense and going undefeated on the road are great stepping stones for the Trinity football team’s quest for greatness.
“We’re trying to build the foundation for Trinity football, and we accomplished so many things this year, building national relevance, getting Trinity football back on to the right path.”
A step in the right direction is having 16 players awarded with All-SCAC team honors. Leading the Tiger nominations is Junior Linebacker Julian Turner who was named the SCAC defensive player of the year in back to back seasons.
“It’s such an honor to be awarded defensive player of the year consecutive seasons,” Turner said. “I couldn’t have done it without my very talented teammates I play along with and the diligent work from coaches.”
Globe echoed Turner’s statements, stressing that the individual awards were only possible through the larger effort put forth by the team and the coaches.
“It really is an honor and I’m just extremely blessed with how God, my family, coaches, and teammates have supported me throughout the year,” Globe said. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”