SAN ANTONIO – In their first residence playoff recreation since 2014, Trinity pieced collectively two scoring drives within the second half to rally past Hardin-Simmons 14-7 and punch their tickets to the second round of the NCAA Division III soccer playoffs on Saturday afternoon.
The climate was actually an element. With driving rain and 40-degree temperatures hampering Trinity’s high-powered offense all through the primary half, the Tigers fell behind 7-0 within the waning seconds of the second quarter on a seven-yard landing run from Noah Garcia. That marked the primary time all season Trinity had trailed at halftime.
The second half was a distinct story.
After a penalty pushed Trinity again to their very own eight-yard line on the opening kickoff, the Tigers methodically drove down the sector. Senior broad receiver Ryan Merrifield was almost unstoppable on the drive, changing essential third- and fourth-down conditions. Running again Winston Hutchison capped the 19-play, 92-yard drive with a one-yard landing run that tied the sport at 7-7. That one drive burned the primary 9:46 of the third quarter.
Both groups then traded huge performs and punts till halfway via the fourth quarter. Quarterback Tucker Horn as soon as once more pieced collectively a drive that includes a key third-down conversion to Merrifield and a constant presence from Hutchison that finally got here to a breaking level on the Hardin-Simmons 38-yard line. One Third-and-6, Horn dialed up a deep ball for a wide-open Merrifield, who made the seize in stride for a 38-yard landing that proved to be the game-winner. Trinity’s protection was examined on the following drive, however Casey Hampton sealed a outstanding, resilient victory with an interception on the objective line. Merrifield ended the sport with six catches for 110 yards and a TD, all within the second half.
“It means everything, just to come out here and advance one more week,” Merrifield stated. “We’ve been working all season long. We’ve been working since January 1. We set the goal on the board to win a playoff game, and we just did it today. It’s a team effort.”
“I can’t state enough my love for these guys, their commitment to one another and their unity,” Trinity head coach Jerheme Urban stated. “The amount of injuries we’ve had to overcome this year… and people just continue to dig deep. We were going into this game essentially down four starting defensive linemen, and they were giving us everything they could. That was a full team win. Our offensive line grew up a lot today. I’m so proud of them. That 10-minute drive to start the second half set the tone. We weren’t losing this football game.”
Trinity advances to face the defending NCAA Division III National Champions Mary Hardin-Baylor within the second round subsequent Saturday. The Tigers lost to the Crusaders within the first round of final year’s playoffs 13-3.
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