In a match that would make your grandpa proud, Trinity’s football team lost their second conference game this year on Sept. 15 to Millsaps College (MC) with a score of 10–7. Due to the torrential downpour and muddy field, the two teams combined for 86 running plays and 11 fumbles in the low-scoring affair that lacked a flashy offensive showing from either team.
Trinity looked to bounce back from their first loss of the season against Hardin-Simmons University the previous week. The Millsaps Majors came into the game undefeated through two games and had allowed only three points on defense.
The rain and slippery conditions limited the ability for teams to throw the ball. Both teams focused on running the ball and combined for only 445 total yards. The field’s condition worsened as the rain continued to pour. The mud only became thicker as the game went on. The field turned into a makeshift slip’n’slide. Referees had a tough job determining the correct line of scrimmage because once the defense tackled the ball-carrier, he would slide another five yards in the mud.
The mud gave the quarterbacks poor grip on the ball resulting in multiple bad throws and dropped balls. Gloves didn’t yield much help. MC quarterback Chance Clowers used gloves throughout the game but still fumbled five times. Trinity had similar struggles throughout the game.
“Sometimes conditions force you to re-evaluate a game plan and play more field position with very calculated shots at the end zone,” said Trinity’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Wade Lytal. “It became difficult to push the ball down field like you saw the week before due to the field conditions and the rain.”
Some Trinity players enjoyed playing on the muddy field.
“It’s actually pretty rare that a college football team plays on a grass field instead of turf, so a muddy game is something that few college football players get to experience,” said Kievan Boudreaux-Bostic, Trinity junior and linebacker. “Our feet went pretty far into the mud, a couple of inches at the least. Every step that we took the mud sloshed up into the air.”
The Tigers won the toss and decided to receive to begin the game. Junior quarterback Timmy Ware started in place of sophomore quarterback Wyatt Messex, as Messex nursed an injury he suffered against Hardin-Simmons. Ware led the Tigers down the field in an exceptional drive that ended with a 49–yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Tommy Lavine. Lavine had one on one coverage with the cornerback and blew by him with a great release. Ware floated the ball where Lavine only had to run under the ball to make the catch. He easily outran the cornerback for the touchdown.
Millsaps responded with a long drive that lasted seven minutes and 31 seconds. However, the Tigers had an advantage that ultimately squandered the Majors’ drive. The rain began to pour violently from the sky midway through the drive.
On third down and 11 from the Trinity 19 yard line, Clowers threw a pass to senior wide receiver Ty Durham in the middle of the end zone. Trinity’s defense accidentally left the middle of the field open leaving Durham without anyone around him for a five yard radius.
To avoid overthrowing Durham, Clowers floated the ball. Unfortunately, Durham struggled to find the ball in the downpour, and the ball careened off his shoulder pad for an incomplete pass.
MC decided not to attempt a field goal because of the intense rainstorm. They ended up turning the ball over on downs a play later.
With 12:25 left in the second quarter, Millsaps forced Trinity to punt. This time, the wet ball slipped through junior punter T.J. Raniszeski’s hands.
Raniszeski had no choice but to run back to pick the ball up and attempt to get the first down.
The Majors tackled Raniszeski after his few noble attempts to evade defenders at the Trinity 16 yard line.
After a defensive pass interference penalty on Trinity in the end zone, the Majors scored easily with a two yard run by sophomore running back Fritz Walker III on a sweep to the left side to tie the game at seven.
The Majors could not continue their momentum, however.
On their next drive, Clowers fumbled the ball on a backwards pass towards senior running back Andrew Warren.
The ball slipped out of Clowers’ hands, resulting in a scramble for the ball between Warren and Trinity senior cornerback Vail Miesfeld. Miesfeld eventually won the battle to give Trinity great field position at the MC 31.
Trinity could not capitalize on the scoring opportunity as the Majors sacked Ware twice in a row.
On third down and 11, the center accidentally snapped the ball past Ware.
When Ware went back to recover the fumble, his foot got stuck in the mud.
A Millsaps player then tackled Ware, who landed uncomfortably on his leg. Messex replaced Ware for the rest of the game. It is unclear how serious Ware’s injury is.
The offenses continued to stall until the fourth quarter. Neither team reached the red zone.
The two teams exchanged punts until 3:39 left in the fourth quarter when Miesfeld intercepted a Clowers pass at the Trinity 36-yard line.
Trinity had a chance to take the lead, but instead MC forced a turnover. Evans tackled senior running back Evan McDowell by putting his shoulder on the ball to force it loose. MC returned the fumble to the Trinity 36.
“Playing with a wet/muddy football is a challenge on the quarterbacks and anyone having to carry the football,” Lytal said. “It just requires an extra level of focus from our skill players. You just have to focus harder on holding onto the football and keeping it high and tight when the ball is slick and you are wet or covered in mud.”
MC ran the clock down until 0:04 remained on the clock.
They brought out junior kicker Hunter Sellen to attempt the 25-yard field goal.
The chip shot sailed through the uprights as time expired to lift the Majors to victory with a score of 10–7.
After a bye week, Trinity’s football team will play Birmingham-Southern College in another Southern Athletic Association home conference game at Trinity University Stadium at 1p.m. on Sept. 29.