San Antonio - The Trinity Tigers shut down one of the most potent offenses in the nation to defeat the Huntingdon Hawks 24-7 in an NCAA Division III non-conference game at the Trinity Football Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Trinity remained undefeated at 6-0, marking the first time the Tigers have won six straight games since the the 2008 campaign. Huntingdon, an NCAA independent, dropped to 5-2. The Tigers have now won three of their four meetings with the Hawks, with Huntingdon taking last year's match-up 56-30 at Montgomery, Ala.
The Hawks were ranked fifth in total offense, averaging over 500 yards and 37.7 points per game. Trinity's defense, which had two goal-line stands, limited Huntingdon to 368 total yards (63 yards rushing, 306 yards passing).
"That was a signature win," said Tigers head Coach Steve Mohr. "Our defense continues to rise up. They just amaze me. Offensively, we scored enough. It would have been nice to come up with a couple of touchdowns instead of a field goal. But they (Huntingdon) are a good football team. And, it's good to be 6-0."
Tiger quarterback Nyk McKissic scored on Trinity's first possession of the game, capping a 10-play, 78-yard with a two-yard scamper with 10:25 left in the quarter.
Huntingdon evened things up with four minutes to go in the first, as Trevor Manuel rushed for a four-yard touchdown. No one knew at the time that it would be the last points of the day for the Hawks.
McKissic tossed a 25-yard TD pass to Jonathan Osei-Kuffour just 10 seconds into the second quarter, as the Tigers took a 14-7 lead. Garrett Biel, who also kicked three extra points, booted a 38-yard field goal with 8:46 remaining in the first half, as Trinity went into the locker room with a 17-7 lead. An interception by Trinity's Nicholas Darling (nine tackles, three solo) of quarterback Neal Posey, returned two yards to the Hawks 19, helped set up the field goal by Biel.
With his six points in the win, Biel moved up to 14th place in Trinity history for career points scored.
In the third quarter, the Tigers Antonio Debouse intercepted a Posey pass at the Trinity 43, and returned the ball 46 yards to the Huntingdon 11. Desmond King then rushed for four yards to the Huntingdon seven, and the Tigers lined up for a field goal. Matthew Kennemer mishandled the snap, but turned it into a positive play by running it in for a touchdown.
"We beat speed with speed,"said Debouse, who had eight tackles (three solo). "We knew if we came out and hit them hard, and hit them fast, we had a good chance of shutting them down. We are just getting back to our old roots."
Posey completed 31-50 passes (three interceptions) for 306 yards, and was sacked three times.
Von'Darrick Jones halted a Huntingdon drive by recovering a fumble by Manuel on the Trinity six. Posey was intercepted for the third time as Zach Wright snagged a pass at the Tigers five yard line late in the fourth quarter.
Tyler Barrett shared the lead with Ben Robinson in total tackles, with 11. Barrett registered 10 solo tackles and a pass breakup, and Robinson had eight unassisted tackles, a forced fumble, and two pass breakups. Robinson's forced fumble kept Huntingdon out of the end zone despite it being second-and-goal from the one.
Kyle Trella punted the ball eight times for 320 yards, with an average of 40 yards per punt ( a long punt of 47 yards). Trella now has over 5,000 punting yards in his career.
Trinity, ranked fourth in total defense, forced four Huntingdon turnovers, with three interceptions and a recovered fumble.
The Tiger offense, on the other hand, did not commit a turnover. McKissic went 18-29 for 194 yards (one sack), and rushed eight times for 21 yards. Osei-Kuffour snagged seven passes for 100 yards, and Patrick Granchelli had 21 rushing attempts for 51 yards. Granchelli became the 21st Tiger player to reach the 1,000-yards rushing plateau.
Trinity produced 194 yards in the air and 93 on the ground, for 287 total yards.
The Tigers travel to La Grange, Ga., next Saturday for a non-conference game with LaGrange College. Trinity resumes its Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference campaign Oct. 29 by hosting Birmingham-Southern at noon. The Tigers stand at 3-0 in SCAC play.