MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Sometimes — think Big Bad Boston Bruins in hockey or maybe Mike Ditka’s Chicago Bears — a team lives up to its nickname to a T. To that list, you can add the young, beat-up, under-manned, COVID-hampered Trinity Warriors football team, after it battled highly ranked East Hardy in a rare Sunday afternoon home game at home. And while Trinity eventually bowed to the deeper, more experienced Cougars, 21-2, it certainly wasn’t for lack of effort, especially from its defense in the first half.
The East Hardy (4-1) offense, behind a strong running attack led by tailback Alex Miller, was able to move the ball fairly efficiently between the 30-yard lines in the first half, but the depleted Trinity (1-2) defense was able to come up big on three straight drives to thwart potential scores. The opening drive was stopped on 4th and 3, then Levi Teets — in perfect coverage — stepped in front of a deep sideline pass for a key interception on the next series, then broke up a fourth down corner route in the end zone on the Cougars’ subsequent possession midway through the second quarter to keep the game scoreless.
However, the busted-up Trinity offensive line could gain no traction against its oversized East Hardy counterparts, and the Warriors struggled mightily with the ball all game long. And finally, with six minutes left before halftime, the wheels finally came off for the home team, after another three-and-out gave EH great field position at the Trinity 33. Two Alex Miller runs later, the Cougars were on top, 7-0. After Trinity’s next drive stalled, a botched punt snap gave East Hardy’s offense another golden opportunity late in the half, and it quickly capitalized on a 3-play, 13-yard drive on Mason Miller’s 9-yard burst off right tackle.
The final dagger came with less than a minute to go, when EH’s Andrew Tharp broke through contain, blocked a Warriors punt, gobbled the loose ball up at the 17, and rumbled in untouched for the back-breaker, making it 21-0 at the half.
With the second half shorted due to Trinity’s injury-ravaged roster, the final score changed only after Trinity’s defense (which forced two second-half turnovers) was able to score points on Trey Blunt’s safety late in the final quarter.
After the game, TC’s first-year head coach Chris Simpson praised his team’s effort.
“I’m proud of how we battled,” he said. “We’re struggling with injuries, we missed three weeks due to COVID, had no scrimmage to prepare for the season, and our first two games have been against East Hardy and Madonna, two of the best in the state. All of those things can make it tough on a young, inexperienced football team, but we never quit, and we made a lot of big-time plays on defense that kept us in the game.
“The punt block was the biggest play of the game, but you have to give them credit for making the play. We recognize that we’re very young up front, so we can get physically overmatched at times. We’re trying to get our quarterback to work well with a moving pocket, and to learn how to be patient offensively. We need to possess the ball as much as possible, and slowly we’re learning how to do that.
“We’re going to make mistakes, which is okay,” he concluded. “We’ll try not to make them twice, and continue to improve week to week…but it sure would be nice to get healthy, too.”
The Warriors are set to host Valley-Wetzel on Friday at 7 p.m.
East Hardy (4-1) 0 21 0 0 – 21
Trinity (1-2) 0 0 0 2 – 2
2 Q – EH Alex Miller 2 run (Noah Lang kick kick)
EH – Mason Miller 9 run (Lang kick)
EH – Andrew Tharp 17 blocked punt return (Lang kick)
4th Q – TC – Trey Blunt safety
EH – Christian Dove 7-13-1 64, Damien Dellinger 0-2-1 0 , Totals 7-15-2 64
TC – Drew Boczek 9-16-0 63, James Garbart 3-5-1 1, Levi Teets 0-1-1 0 Totals 11-22-2 64
EH – A. Miller 10-77 TD, M. Miller 5-15 TD, Dove 1-0, Tyler Tarallo 1-6, Dellinger 2-1, Damian Iman 1-3, Total 20-102 2TD.
TC- Garbart 3-30, Calvin Blunt Jr. 9-0, Boczek 12 –(-12), Ben Lohmann 1-(-8), Teets 5-(-12) Total 25-26.
EH – A. Tharp 3-55, Lang 2-1, Dawson Price 1-3, Bryce Tharp 1-5
TC – Lohmann 1-16, Teets 5-44, Blunt 4-(-4), Garbart 1-8
EH – 2 (Mario Combs, Brandon Jones)
TC – 2 (Teets, Finn Sinclair)