|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2012 - Polk County Publishing Company
Special teams play leads to Tiger loss
Trinity Standard -
By GREG PEAK
Area news editor
KOUNTZE -- Three blocked Trinity punts and a 76-yard kickoff return propelled the Kountze Lions to a 48-24 homecoming victory Friday night over the visiting Tigers. The Lions (3-0) had major problems with the Tigers (2-1) defense throughout the night but on special teams play, they dominated. Two of the punts were blocked into the end zone for easy scores while a third gave them the ball at the Trinity 32 and another TD two plays later. Those Trinity miscues, coupled with the kickoff returned for a TD, accounted for the Lions’ first 28 points and spelled doom for the Tigers hopes of maintaining an unbeaten record in the 2012 varsity football season. During the first half of the game, the Tiger offense hammered the ball in for three touchdowns while the Lions used their special teams play to match Trinity TD for TD. In the first 24 minutes of play, the lead changed hands five times with the Lions pushing to a 21-18 halftime advantage off a 20-yard pass with no time left on the clock. After the mid-game break, Trinity’s troubles continued with their third blocked punt, which, like the first, was recovered by Kountze in the end zone. This gave the Lions a 10-point cushion, which they were able to expand to 30 points until the Tigers pushed in their fourth and final TD during the bottom half of the fourth quarter. Trinity’s ability to bounce back during the second half was severely hampered by the loss of their starting quarterback, senior Steve Alexander. The 170-pound player reportedly suffered from flu-like symptoms during the week leading up to the game and shortly before halftime collapsed on the Tiger sideline due to breathing problems. Although Alexander was taken off the field on a gurney, he was able to return to the sideline during the second half after being given fluids intravenously. He did not return to the field on the advice of the paramedics. Prior to being taken out of the game, Alexander completed five of nine passes for 69 yards and one TD. He had also rushed for a net gain of 26 yards on nine carries. After the game, Tiger Head Coach Jarrod Smith indicated that Alexander was recovering and was expected to return next week against the New Waverly Bulldogs. “We really missed him during the second half,” Smith said, noting Alexander is a major impact player. “He is a key cog in the wheel and without him, it was difficult for us to move the ball.” Smith noted that strong play by the defense kept the Tigers in the game but the problems on special teams played havoc with their ability to win. “The three blocked punts exposed a weakness. I suppose its good that happened now because we have a chance to go back, look at the film and make corrections before district play begins,” Smith said. Smith noted the first half of the game was “good football” as the two squads battled back and forth over the lead. “I told the guys at halftime that if we could go out and play error-free football during the second half, we could win. But, we didn’t,” he said. “We did get down into the red zone a couple of times but didn’t score. “I told the team that we have to learn from our victories and learn from our losses. Its now time to take those lessons and get ready for New Waverly next week,” he said. After Alexander left the game, he was initially replaced at quarterback by junior Lehn Griepenstroh and later by freshman Aaron Kirkwood, who serves as the junior varsity’s QB. Because the junior varsity didn’t play last week, Kirkwood and some others from that squad suited up on Friday night. During the game, Griepenstroh completed three of eight passing attempts for a loss of nine yards. One of his passes was picked off by Kountze. Kirkwood tried only two passes, completed none and had one intercepted. Leading the list of receivers for Trinity was junior Pat Ward who caught two for 28 yards. House caught four for 25 net yards and a TD; Davis caught one for eight yards; and junior Terrance Potts caught one for a loss of one yard. On the ground, the Tigers once again were led by senior running back Tarlus Davis, who gained a net 140 yards and two TDs on 19 carries. Alexander added his 26 net yards and was followed by junior Kemon House with 20 yards on two attempts; Kirkwood with a net gain of 17 yards and one TD on five runs; sophomore Zach Rankin with two yards off one carry; and Griepenstroh with a loss of 10 yards off two attempts. For the Lions, almost all of their offensive gains came off passes (142 net yards) with five different players alternating at the QB slot throughout the game. The leading thrower was sophomore Justin Harper, who completed four of six passes for 105 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Rowdy Teel was three of five for 29 yards, freshman Grayland Arnold was two of three for seven yards, senior Jamazdon Powell was one of two for one yard and senior Darrion Harper attempted one throw that fell incomplete. Leading the list of receivers for Kountze was Darrion Harper, who caught four for 90 yards and two TDs. Junior Xavior Scott caught five for 55 yards and one TD while Jamazdon Powell caught one for a loss of three yards. On the ground, Kountze was almost helpless against the Tiger defense. They gained only 61 net yards and one TD on 24 attempts with Jamazdon Powell leading the pack with 28 yards on four runs -- all in the second half. Darrion Harper picked up 23 yards on four carries -- again all in the second half -- while junior Javonte Powell gained 16 yards and one TD on three runs. Senior Ernest Hafford contributed 11 yards on three carries; junior Eric Brisco ran for six net yards on three attempts; Teel ended the night with a loss of 12 yards on two attempts; Justin Harper recorded a six-yard loss on two carries; and senior Marcus Williams ended the night with a loss of five yards off three carries. The Game After exchanging punts early in the opening quarter, the Tigers were able to get on the scoreboard first during their second series of plays. After taking possession of the ball at the Kountze 37, Trinity used five plays to score with the TD coming off a 21-yard throw from Alexander to House in the end zone. A two-point conversion attempt on the point-after try failed so the Tigers had to settle for a 6-0 lead with 6:19 left in the quarter. When the Lions went three and out on their subsequent possession, the Tigers took the punt and set up shop at the Trinity 30-yard mark. Despite an initial eight-yard gain off an Alexander to Davis pass, a Tiger penalty coupled with a recovered fumble and a QB sack left the Tigers facing a fourth down and 20 situation from the Trinity 20-yard line. A punt attempt was blocked by the Lions and the ball was knocked back into the Kountze end zone where it was recovered for the TD. The point-after kick by junior Blake Best was good, giving Kountze a 7-6 lead with 2:23 left in the first quarter. Trinity retook the lead midway through the second quarter after a high-snap fumble by the Lions was recovered by Trinity’s Jesse Reyes on the Trinity 37. Four plays later, a 19-yard pass from Alexander to House appeared to give the Tigers their second TD but a penalty nullified the score and moved the ball back to the Kountze 16-yard mark. Two runs by Davis later and the Tigers reclaimed that lost touchdown. The final run was a 14-yard effort that came with 7:18 left in the half. One the point-after, the Tigers went for two only to have Alexander’s pass intercepted by Kountze’s Best, who returned it all the way to the Trinity 40 before being taken down by sophomore Tyreke Carroll. Now trailing 12-7, the Lions responded immediately when, on the subsequent kickoff, Jamazdon Powell fielded the ball at the Kountze 24 and ran it back down the left side all the way for a 76-yard touchdown. Best’s point-after kick was good, giving the Lions a 14-12 lead with 7:05 left in the half. Trinity’s offense responded on the following series. After taking the kickoff, the Tigers went to work on their 30-yard line and used seven plays to score. The TD came on a 21-yard run by Davis with 4:13 left in the half. On the point-after try, Trinity again went for two points but pass from Alexander to House fell incomplete, leaving the Tigers with an 18-14 lead. Late in the fourth quarter, on the first Tiger series after Alexander was forced to leave the game, Trinity stalled at their 41 on a fourth and one situation. After an unsuccessful attempt to draw the Lions offside, the Tigers called timeout and sent the punting unit onto the field. For the second time the Lions were able to block the kick and this time recovered it at the Trinity 32 with only seven seconds left in the first half. A 12-yard Justin Harper to Scott pass moved the ball to the 20 with two second left and a Justin Harper to Darrion Harper pass sealed the deal and give Kountze the lead just after the buzzer ending the half sounded. The point after kick by Best was good, boosting the Lions to a 21-18 halftime advantage. In the third quarter, the Tiger offense again stalled on their opening possession and faced a fourth and 13 situation from the Trinity five-yard line. The punt was again blocked by Kountze and was recovered in the end zone for the touchdown with 7:57 left on the clock. Best’s point-after kick was good, giving the Lions a 28-18 lead. Later in the quarter after the two teams had exchanged punts, the Tigers were driving inside Kountze territory when a Griepenstroh pass was picked off by Lion freshman Jayden Cunningham at the Kountze 40-yard line and returned to the Trinity 32. Kountze used three plays to score, with the TD coming off a 15-yard run by Javonte Powell with 2:24 left in the third quarter. Best’s point-after kick gave the Lions a 35-18 lead. Early in the fourth quarter, Kountze expanded their lead after taking a Trinity punt at the Tiger 35. Five plays later they were still on the 35 facing a third down and 20 situation when Justin Harper put the ball into the air and connected with Scott in the end zone with 9:10 left in the game. Best’s point-after kick was blocked and picked up by Trinity senior Jordon Ross. The six-foot, four-inch 285-pound Tiger shock off tacklers and sprinted all the way to the Kountze 37-yard line before being brought down. Now down 41-18, the Tiger were again unable to move the ball and were forced into a three and out situation. Kountze took the punt and returned it to the Trinity 35. After being pushed back to the 38, Justin Harper again put the ball in the air on a deep pass, this time connecting with Darrion Harper in the end zone with 5:40 left in the game. Best’s kick was good on the point-after try to give the Lions a 48-18 lead. On the subsequent kickoff, Davies fielded the ball at the Tiger 19 and with the help of a couple of timely blocks, proceeded to zip, dodge and twist his way all the way down to the Kountze 3-yard mark before being brought down by Lion senior Tyler Brown. With Kirkwood now at quarterback, the Tigers used one play to score. Kirkwood carried the ball over the goal line with 5:17 left in the game. A two-point conversion run by Kirkwood on the point-after try was stopped short, leaving the score at 48-24. Trinity had one more chance to score late in the fourth quarter after the Lions surrendered the ball on downs at the Tiger 35 with 2:23 left to play. Runs by Davis and Kirkwood quickly moved the ball down to the Kountze 14 but a fourth down fumble gave the Lions with ball with less than 25 seconds on the clock. One quick kneel-down by the Kountze quarterback ended the game.