Lions Rally Past Trinity, 38-24
Bailey rushes for 3 TD's, 191 yards
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- A resilient team bent on winning rose to the challenge on Saturday afternoon. The Southwestern Assemblies of God University, behind a big play defense and a high-powered ground game, led the host Lions to a 38-24 triumph over a tougher-than-expected Trinity Bible College team from North Dakota.
Freshman running back Eddie Bailey, Jr. (Milwaukee, Wisc / John Jay HS) was the hero for SAGU. With the outcome in doubt in the fourth quarter, he scored two of his three touchdowns and rushed for 191 yards on a day when the offense needed someone to step up big. He had a fourth TD called back in the first quarter.
With most observers predicting an easy win over a team riding a losing streak, SAGU entered the game hoping to do just that, while getting plenty of playing time for everyone wearing Vegas Gold.
Trinity, 0-10 a year ago, played like a determined group still seething from a 945-mile ride on a bus whose air-conditioning went out in Wichita, Kansas. And it did too. And playing in 93 degree weather only reminded them of their "far trek."
After grabbing a 14-0 lead, Southwestern appeared on their way to their first win of the season. But that's when their ride got rough. Starting quarterback Jason Rice (Katy, Tx / Katy Faith West HS, Texas State Univ) went down with a sprained knee. He would not return. What followed was a parade of penalties in the middle quarters that totaled 154 yards, and wiped out a 60 yard interception return, a long pass reception, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.
As the hosts' self-inflicted miscues derailed their attack, it only served to inspire the underdogs from Ellendale, North Dakota. Their confidence grew, and they played like a team who were beginning to believe this was their day. It almost was.
"They came to play," said defensive end Ike Caston (Dallas, Tx / A Plus Academy). "And we kept digging a hole for ourselves with the penalties."
Even All-America linebacker Jared Hudgins (Midland, Tx / Midland Christian) chimed in, praising TBC's effort. "Those guys really fought hard. They left it on the field. And our penalties kept them in the game."
With SAGU clinging to a 14-10 lead late in the third quarter, the visiting Lions stunned the crowd with a great defensive play. Senior linebacker Brent Holt easily read a Jeremy Fowler (Caddo Mills, Tx / Caddo Mills HS) pass intended for Micah Burditt (Midland, Tx / Robert E. Lee HS). Holt cut in front with a full head of steam and then bolted for a 20-yard return, capping a "pick six" for Trinity.
The fourth quarter was a different story.
Following a James Gish (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) 33-yard field goal with 13:54 to play that knotted the score at 17, Trinity mounted an impressive 80-yard drive, most all of it on the ground. Head Coach Dan Morgan inserted a freshman, Jason Elliott, at QB, and moved Clint Linthicum, a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, to running back. He had been effective for 3+ quarters as their signal caller.
The move paid immediate dividends, as the tandem took turns finding seams and busting loose for big gainers. Brandon Welch, a 150-pound wide receiver got the ball on a misdirection play and zoomed for 20. Elliott, who weighs the same, slithered in a hole that only a featherweight could, and jetted 32 yards to the SAGU 26. A 15-yard penalty against the Purple Pride moved Trinity to the 11. Linthicum finished the drive by darting up the middle for a 24-17 lead with 10:50 to go.
The Situation Called for Passes
Kolby Burns (Duncanville, Tx / Christway Academy), a 5-foot-5 wideout, returned the kickoff to the 42 yard line, giving Head Coach Jesse Godding's spread offense great field position. Instead of passing, he called Bailey's number. He picked up six yards on the first play. Trusting an offensive line that is as strong as it is able, he dialed up Bailey again. He followed his guards to the left, got a seal block from WR Darion Waits (Waxahachie, Tx / Ennis HS), turned the corner and then turned on the afterburners.
Fifty-two yards later the game was tied.
Trinity wasn't done. Chris Blasingame, a speedster from Cinnaminson, NJ, bobbled the kick. It appeared to freeze the tacklers, whom he accelerated past with a burst of speed, broke a tackle with a spin move and looked to be gone. There was only one man left to beat. Surely he could get past the kicker, Gish. He couldn't as the Waxahachie native took him down at midfield and an estimated stadium crowd of 1,000 plus breathed a sigh of relief.
The Defense Never Rests
Under the gun, the defense rose to the fore. Gevoni Eley (St. Louis, Mo / Maplewood R.H. HS) stopped Linthicum for no gain on first down. Senior tackle Ryan McCray (Daytona Beach, Fla / Mainland HS) stuffed Elliott for a two-yard loss. On third and 12, Elliott hit 6'4 Shean Bosworth over the middle, almost getting the first down had it not been for a tackle by Quentin Holloman (Garland, Tx / Sachse HS) and Trevor McKinley (Arlington, Tx / Juan Seguin HS).
That brought up a fourth and less than one yard to go. Linthicum took Elliott's handoff and powered into the teeth of the Lions front four. They were carnivorous. A pair of freshmen defensive tackles had stunted, according to Hudgins. Defensive Coordinator John Allen had called the perfect play to stunt the final Trinity chance at another big play. Joe Astorga (Dallas, Tx / W.T. White HS) and Steve Borden (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) muscled through the line and met Linthicum in the backfield for a two yard loss.
In Praise of the Defense
Caston spoke about his teammates on defense, and how they all want each other to play well. He mentioned the game that Hudgins had. He led the team with 10 tackles, a sack, an interception and a pass break-up. He gave big props to "Florida," as the players affectionately refer to McCray. As for Borden, who moved from tight end to defensive end and made six tackles. "That guy has got a motor!"
In the fourth quarter, Borden had a hemi inside.
The Play of the Game Sends Momentum to SAGU
The momentum shift was almost tangible. With the ball at their own 43 and 7:20 showing on the game clock, it was the offense's time to repay a defense that has been waiting for this moment for two games.
Following a three yard gain by Bailey, Fowler's play-action fake on second down set up a tight spiraled dart to WR Anthony Morris, Jr. (Houston, Tx / Alief Hastings HS) near the sideline for a 20-yard pick-up.
From the 34, expecting more from Bailey, Godding sent in just that. Bailey shook off a defender who had grabbed his shirt-tale and hung on. Turns out it was Superman's cape. Bailey busted loose into the hole and blasted up the middle unrestrained to pay dirt. The 34-yard jaunt capped a quick 3-play, 57-yard scoring march in less than a minute.
There would be no more heroics from Trinity. They were forced to punt from their 13 after three straight defensive stops. LB Jacob Kirksey (Ft. Smith, Ark / Southside HS), Astorga, Borden and McCray made the tackles for losing yardage, and SAGU went for the jugular.
Dylan Jensen (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS) twice dashed for 8-yards, sandwiching an 18-yard pass to Burditt, only to have a penalty move SAGU back 15 yards. This time a penalty would be nullified. On the next play Fowler rolled left and lofted a great pass in the end zone that Nathaniel Pruitt (Ft. Worth, Tx / Western Hills HS) snared for the score!
Sharing the Glory
Hudgins was humble later that evening while watching the SAGU volleyball team sweep Bacone. "They fought us well. But in the end we did what we had to do."
Bailey was quiet, yet pleased the team pulled together and won. "It's all about cooperation," he said. "its guys cooperating, working together, staying focused. Working as a team. It's not about any individual player performance. It's about everyone doing their job and letting the results speak for themselves."
On his two fourth quarter TD's he gave credit to guards; "Big Mike" Thomas (Washington, Tx / Brenham HS) and Jacob Anderson (Tulsa, Ok / Union HS) for key blocks. He made sure to mention downfield blocks by Waits and Morris.
"It's the team sharing the momentum," he added. "The offense to the defense. The defense to the offense. Momentum. It's the way to motivate each other to do good."
The SAGU Lions racked up a season high 471 yards of total offense. The defense made plays, and the team overcame adversity on a day they didn't expect it.
"It wasn't the way we wanted it," Astorga said as he left Lumpkins Stadium. "Because there's still a lot of work to get done. But it was a win and it was worth what we did together to get it."
Next Game in Two Weeks
The Lions have a bye this week before going north of the Red River on October 2 to face Southern Nazarene. The Crimson Storm looks like the Central State Football League's best team so far this season.
Check later for photos from the game.