Methodical and bruising, the Trinity High School football team’s rushing attack was at its finest Friday night.
Racking up 287 yards on the ground and just shy of 6 yards per carry against a previously formidable St. Xavier defense, the Shamrocks rolled to a 35-13 victory in front of an estimated 18,000 fans at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
They did it against a St. X defense that was allowing just 79.4 rushing yards per game but appeared fatigued at the end Friday night. The No. 6 Tigers dropped to 4-2.
“It’s called blocking,” Trinity coach Bob Beatty said. “And then (St. X) was so worried about putting people in the box, we were able to throw the ball with efficiency and success.”
PHOTO GALLERY | St. Xavier vs. Trinity
Trinity – No. 3 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – ran its record to 7-0 for the first time since 2012 and now has won 11 of the past 12 meetings against rival St. X. The Shamrocks lead the all-time series 42-37-2.
Behind a revamped offensive line and the running of backs Roderick Thomas and Jovan Smith and quarterback Spencer Blackburn, Trinity entered the game averaging 218.8 yards per game and improved on that mark Friday.
Blackburn was named the game’s MVP after rushing for 115 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and completing 15 of 21 passes for 101 yards and two scores.
“He’s the best athlete we’ve had at that position,” Beatty said. “He still has a lot of room to improve as a quarterback, but he’s a tremendous athlete. It’s our job as coaches to use that athletic ability.”
Senior Roderick Thomas carried 26 times for 151 yards and two scores.
“Our coach told us if we hit them in the mouth first that it would go like that in the fourth quarter,” Thomas said.
Trinity also did it in methodical, clock-killing fashion – putting together three scoring drives of 80 yards or more.
Desmond Ridder’s 1-yard touchdown run with 9:00 left in the second quarter pulled the Tigers within 14-7, but the Shamrocks responded with its longest drive (based on time of possession) of the night.
Thomas carried seven times for 25 yards on the march, and Blackburn capped it with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Noah Ellison for a 21-7 lead with 2:19 left in the half. The 14-play drive covered 80 yards and took 6:41 off the clock.
“We feel like we’re one of the best-conditioned teams in the state, and we used that to our advantage and make the opponent fatigued,” Blackburn said.
The Shamrocks put it away on their first drive of the third quarter, capping another 80-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Blackburn to Ellison, who finished with five catches for 32 yards.
St. X quarterback Desmond Ridder completed 14 of 21 passes for 111 yards and rushed for 72 yards on 17 carries. Leading rusher Sam Taylor was limited to 37 yards and a touchdown on eight attempts.
“Hats off to the defense for only allowing 13 points,” Beatty said. “I thought those kids were physical, and they hit well. It’s very difficult to defend (Ridder), and they did a good job.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org
TRINITY 7 14 7 7 – 35
ST. XAVIER 0 7 6 0 – 13
T – Spencer Blackburn 17 run (Zach Williams kick); T – Roderick Thomas 7 run (Williams kick); X – Desmond Ridder 1 run (Owen Johnson kick); T – Noah Ellison 8 pass from Blackburn (Williams kick); T – Ellison 2 pass from Blackburn (Williams kick); X – Sam Taylor 2 run (kick failed); T – Thomas 25 run (Williams kick).
First downs 23 16
Total yards 388 224
Rushes-yards 48-287 29-113
Comp-Att-Int 15-21-0 14-21-1
Passing yards 101 111
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-0
Punts-avg 2-34.5 4-31
Penalties-yards 6-50 6-44