MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When any program is in its infancy – as two-year old Trinity football surely is – perhaps the most difficult aspect to learn isn’t the playbook or tackling techniques or offensive line calls. Sometimes the toughest thing to find is your team’s identity.
The Warriors don’t have that problem. They’re all about defense and have been all season long.
Once again, the TC defense turned in yet another outstanding performance Friday night to help run their school-record win streak to three in a grinding 14-10 victory over Steubenville (OH) Central Catholic, a team that just a year ago crushed the Warriors by 40 points.
“We didn’t really focus too much on last year’s game,” said exhausted, relieved Trinity coach Chris Simpson after the game. “We still have so much to learn as a team, so we tend to spend our energy on us, and what we need to take care of ourselves and improve as a group.”
Warriors fans that remembered last year’s score might’ve been concerned when the Crusaders (2-8) returned the opening kickoff to midfield and quickly moved into TC territory. But a forced fumble squelched the threat. Trinity (3-2) mustered minimal success on offense during its first two possessions, and Central took advantage of excellent field position to score first at the tail end of the first quarter. The 34-yard drive featured a quick-hitting slant pass from Ryan Gorman to wide receiver Andrew Dorsey that split the seam perfectly for 31 yards down to the three, and running back Charles Miller glided in on the next play for a 7-0 lead.
But Trinity answered right back with an 11-play, 51-yard scoring drive to tie it up. On third and very long from the SC 34, TC signal caller Drew Boczek dropped back to pass, slid left to escape pocket pressure, then reversed field, sprinted toward the right sideline, then spied receiver Mason Steptoe behind the safety in the end zone for the touchdown.
Central then turned in the longest sustained drive of the night, as they burned all but 16 seconds of the remaining second quarter clock in fifteen plays. However, in what turned out to be one of the critical moments of the game, the Warriors repelled the Crusaders, turning a first and goal from the three into a 27-yard field goal from Jack Rook.
With neither team able to establish the run with any effectiveness (the two teams COMBINED for just 37 yards on 54 carries), the second half became a classic field position battle in which the Warriors clearly prevailed. Their opening drive netted no points, but talented sophomore kicker Kyle Knight pinned the Crusaders back to their own 6. (For the rest of the game, SC started drives from their own 8, 20, 38, and 19, while all six Trinity possessions began inside the Central 40.)
When Central was forced to punt from deep in their endzone, the Warriors began in fabulous position from the CS 23. And then the deciding play of the game came on fourth and long from the 23. Boczek, again scrambling for his life, heaved a prayer into coverage at the goal line aiming from Steptoe, who leaped but could only deflect the ball – into the waiting hands of Carmelo Kniska for an alert but fortunate go-ahead score. After that, a pair of interceptions from Knista and Levi Teets and more staunch defense from the TC line and backers shut the door and sealed the deal down the stretch.
“We knew the second half would turn out to be a defensive struggle,” Simpson said. “They shut down our run game, and we shut down theirs, so field position was going to be key. I simply cannot say enough about our defense. The line got up field and was so disruptive, the linebackers strung everything out and stuffed gaps, and the secondary, especially Levi Teets, who’s a playmaker and a leader, is the strength of our team.
“We got a bit of a break on the go ahead score,” he concluded with a smile, “but our defense gave us that chance, and we took advantage. And believe me, we’ll take any breaks that come our way.”
The Warriors may have a road game this Friday against a yet to be determined opponent, then will host Tucker County at 7p.m. Nov. 12.
Steubenville Central (2-3) 7 3 0 0 – 10
Trinity (3-2) 0 7 7 0 – 14
1 Q – SC Charles Miller 3 run (Jack Rook kick)
2Q – TC – Mason Steptoe 34 pass from Drew Boczek (Kyle Knight kick)
SC – Rook 27 FG
3 Q – TC – Carmelo Kniska 23 pass from Boscek (Knight kick)
SC – Ryan Gorman 10-16-2 86. TC – Boczek 7-16-2 98 2TD.
SC – Miller 12-47 TD, Gorman 15-(-6), Andrew Dorsey 2-(-7) Total 29-34 TD.
TC- Calvin Blunt Jr. 13-28, Boczek 15 –(-23), Anthony Brookover 3-3, Levi Teets 3-(-7) Total 25-3.
SC – Dorsey 2-43, Primo Toriscelli 5-23, Isaac Hough 1-12, Miller 1-0, Toby Rusciano 1-8
TC – Kniska 3-16 TD, Teets 2-34, Steptoe 2-48 TD