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ARLINGTON, Texas — Heading into Saturday’s Southwest Showcase at AT&T Stadium, No. 14 Euless Trinity wanted to keep Lancaster’s high-octane offense off the field and get an early lead to prevent the Tigers from rallying.
For the most part, the Trojans defense did its job and despite early struggles from the offense, Trinity moved to 3-0 with a 26-14 victory.
“It never hurts to keep that type of offense off the field,” Trinity coach Chris Jensen said. “It was disappointing that we didn’t capitalize early as we settled for field goals, and we had some mistakes on third down that kind of [made us] shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Trinity had one of its power drives to start the contest, but it didn’t end in a touchdown. Kicker Julio Prieto booted the first of his two first-half field goals from 31 yards out to gain a 3-0 lead with 4:42 left in the first quarter.
Lancaster would turn it over on downs the following possession, then punted on the next. With 4:36 left in the second quarter, Prieto capped off an 11-play, 51-yard drive, with a 24-yard field goal to gain a 6-0 lead.
The Tigers were struggling to get turnovers, but stopping the Trojans in the red zone doesn’t happen often. Lancaster limited the damage in the first half, but couldn’t muster enough offense to keep it close.
Trinity quarterback Tyler Natee rolled out and threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Noah Wineteer with 42 seconds left to gain a 12-0 lead at haftime.
“It just took us a while to get into [the game],” Trinity running back JaRon Wilson said. “I’d like to thank our defense, because when we [Trinity’s offense] weren’t doing anything, they were holding the fort down for us.”
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At halftime, Jensen told his team to raise its energy level, because Lancaster wasn’t just going to tuck its tail and run, even with a 12-0 lead.
The Tigers didn’t exactly come out swinging, but on their third possession, quarterback Ryan Ross (a transfer from Dallas Kimball) found receiver Omar Manning downfield for a 26-yard touchdown pass. Lancaster scored a two-point conversion to cut Trinity’s lead to 12-8.
To begin the fourth quarter, Trinity’s backfield duo of quarterback Natee and Wilson knew a four-point lead wasn’t enough to keep Lancaster at bay.
“They did a good job at not giving us the outside, but we just made too many mistakes on third downs,” Jensen said. “We were lacking a sense of urgency and my message to the kids was ‘we don’t need to wait for a team to score to get going,.’ It was a good wakeup call. We learned a lot.”
Wilson led the Trojans’ rushing attack with 31 carries for 215 yards, but didn’t cross the goal line. Natee punched in two fourth-quarter touchdowns from a yard and eight yards out, respectively, to keep to seal the victory.
Lancaster responded well to Natee’s one-yard score with a three-play, 58-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a 54-yard connection between Ross and wide receiver Cartrell Thomas.
Trinity responded with a Trinity-type touchdown drive. Wilson rushed for 36 yards, Natee rushed for 12 and running back De’Juan Garrett burst for spurts of 23 and six yards to give Natee his last touchdown. The trio of Garrett, Wilson and Natee combined for 334 of Trinity’s 361 total yards.
“Our running backs just have a respect for the position,” Jensen said. “If you’re a tailback [in Trinity’s offense especially] it’s a pretty good place to play football.
“It’s also out of respect for the offensive lineman in the trenches. They don’t need somebody just tip-toeing around, because they’re getting after it, so [our running backs] should to.”
In the end, Trinity (3-0) found its offense to stay perfect thus far. The Trojans are set to travel to Waco to play Galena Park North Shore at Baylor’s McLane Stadium on Friday.
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