A loss on the road against Millsaps on Sept. 10 left many unanswered questions heading into a home game versus Pacific Lutheran University this past Saturday. The Tigers won 9-3, a low-scoring game with some major fireworks in the final seconds, demonstrating great resilience throughout.
The electric atmosphere Saturday night did not translate into a big air attack for the Tigers, as they only accounted for 53 passing yards. Their running game picked up the slack, with junior Evan McDowell leading the way with 189 of their 197 rushing yards. McDowell played well, and it was his touchdown with 16 seconds on the clock that propelled Trinity to victory.
“This past game the mental side of preparation was probably more important than the physical because of the complex defensive schemes that they run. I put my trust in my coach, Kevin O’Keefe, that we’d be ready as a backfield on all fronts. He prepares us for every situation possible, so much so that it becomes second nature, so that when it’s time to react it’s more of a natural reflex than a thought-through response. Being prepared mentally makes everything slow down, it’s like playing against a team in slow motion,” McDowell said.
McDowell’s performance was the most prolific display of rushing that Trinity has seen in a long time, and more than enough to shatter his own career high. His contribution on the game-winning drive, in which he rushed for 65 of his total yards, plus a 28 yard run to keep the drive going, sealed the deal for the Tigers.
This low-scoring game was won in large part due to great defense. Trinity forced four turnovers, and only allowed 81 yards on the ground. The defense was on the field for over 33 minutes of the entire game and battled hard, picking up a last-minute interception on a desperation throw from PLU. Junior Damiyon Harris led both teams in tackles with 14.
“The key to our success was playing as a team even through adversity. It was a very low-scoring game that could have easily been decided by one play. So we came together and played for each other to get the win,” Harris said. “We knew last week’s loss only came because we had a lack of focus through the week. Our defensive coordinator called us out this past Monday and asked us write our own story and how we weren’t last year’s team. We still had a story to be written.”
Not far behind was senior Luke Packard with ten tackles. Double digits are nothing new for Packard, who leads the team with 37 tackles and 4.5 sacks on the season.
“I think all the work that we did as a team this offseason in the spring and summer has propelled our success so far this season. The key to success is to take all the critiquing from our coaches and learn from our mistakes in practice and in games. We improved as a team from the previous week with our focus during practice,” Packard said. “We need to continue to get better as a team. We can improve on every aspect of our defense still, but stopping the run will always be important to have a good defense. “
Trinity is 2-1, and will travel to Orange, California to play Chapman University this Saturday. Chapman is coming off a 34 point loss this pass Saturday.