McKENZIE – The last time the Trinity Christian Academy Lions lost a game was in Week 7 against the McKenzie Rebels by the score of 44-24.
Since that game, TCA had run off five straight wins coming into Friday night’s quarterfinal matchup with the Rebels. It was the Lions who had revenge on their minds on Friday night as they used outstanding defense and a potent offense on their way to a 28-12 win advancing them to the state semifinals.
“The first time we played McKenzie, I’m not sure how confident our younger guys were,” TCA head coach Blake Butler said. “Our seniors have done an oustanding job of leading our younger guys along, and it has helped them build up their confidence. Those young guys have came on late in the season and have been really beneficial to our run in the playoffs.
“Any time that we have everyone playing with full confidence, it allows us to play full speed and makes us just that much better as a team.”
The Lions got on the board first as Andrew Goldsmith broke multiple tackles and sprinted down the sideline for a 24-yard touchdown run.
That touchdown was the first of two touchdown runs that Goldsmith had in the first half.
The Rebels scored their first touchdown on a 32-yard pass from Jack Surber to Tyler Spivey. The extra point was no good, making the score 7-6 with 5:24 left in the half.
The Lions answered quickly on the following possession as Goldsmith ran the ball in for his second touchdown on a two-yard dive to make the score 14-6 with 1:42 left in the half.
After a quick three-and-out for the Rebels, TCA received a punt that was downed at the Lions’ 22-yard line with 53 seconds left in the half. The Lions’ offense struck quickly, covering 78 yards and capped with a three-yard touchdown pass from Goldsmith to Tyler Thomas making the score 21-6 at the half.
The Lions carried that momentum into the second half. The Lions’ Tyler Thomas and Tristan Bonnstetter came up with interceptions halting any chance of the Rebels gaining momentum.
The lone touchdown for the Lions in the second half came following a Tyler Thomas interception that was returned to the 3-yard line as Eli Parker took the handoff in for a three-yard touchdown run to make the score 28-6.
“We had several guys step up tonight,” Butler said. “People are starting to key in on Goldsmith, and it’s allowing our other guys some opportunities to step up and make plays. Tonight, our guys did a great job of making the plays.”
With the win, the Lions will host Memphis Trezevant in the 2A state semifinals.
“These seniors were sophomores the last time this team went to the semifinals,” Butler said. “Trezevant is an outstanding team. Their running back has all kinds of SEC offers and is a great athlete. It’s going to be a great challenge for us, but I know we are all looking forward to it.
“At this point in the playoffs, every team is going to be good.”