Photo by Russsell Marwitz/True To The Cru/russellmarwitz.com
Week 2 of the 2023 football season is here, and features a highly-anticipated showdown in the Alamo City between two of Texas’ top D-III football programs, in No. 12 UMHB and No. 5 Trinity. With the close proximity between the universities and the fact that they have met in each of the last two seasons in the NCAA Playoffs, there is plenty of pride and passion on the line for both teams. Not to mention, both squads are seeking their first victory of the season after facing tough competition in Week 1.
We have players to watch, a look at both teams, the all-time series history, and more in this game preview, presented by The Shady Villa Hotel.
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All-time series history
UMHB is 7-4 in program history against the Tigers. The Crusaders have won the last seven meetings, dating back to Nov. 20, 2004.
Trinity, who reached the Stagg Bowl in 2002, won the first four meetings from 1998-2002, with three of those games played in San Antonio. In fact, Trinity was UMHB’s first opponent in program history, when the two played on Sept. 5, 1998.
Saturday’s contest marks the first time that UMHB and Trinity have played in September since 2012.
- When facing Top 10 opponents on the road in the regular season since 2012, UMHB is 4-1, with wins over Hardin-Simmons, Wesley, and Linfield.
- Since 2018, UMHB is 57-2 when the Crusaders score 20 or more points.
- Trinity is 32-12 at home in the regular season in the last nine seasons under head coach Jerheme Urban, and 11-0 in regular season games played in San Antonio since the fall of 2021.
- The last regular season loss for the Tigers on their home turf came to Hendrix College on March 6, 2021, as part of the abbreviated spring season.
- Though the loss to Saint John’s last week saw Trinity lose its significant lead late in the game, that has not been a trend of the Tigers’ dating back to the spring season in 2021. In fact, when holding a lead after the first quarter in that span of time, Trinity is 19-2.
- Besides the SJU loss, Trinity held a 3-0 lead heading into the second quarter of the 2021 First Round playoff game against UMHB, before eventually falling 13-3.
A look at The Cru
UMHB comes off a 45-22 season-opening loss to now-No. 9 UW-River Falls on the road. Despite the struggles that contributed to the loss, UMHB is focused on turning the page and moving forward, with two matchups against Top 15 opponents on tap in the next two weeks.
Isaac Phe is expected to make his first collegiate start at quarterback, and lead an offense that picked up 17 first downs in the season opener. The passing attack had its high points against UWRF, with UMHB’s three quarterbacks accounting for 244 yards. Six different Crusaders tallied at least one reception. But look for the rushing attack to find more traction this week, behind a duo of experienced running backs in Kenneth Cormier Jr. and Kenneth Miller Jr.
On the defensive end, UMHB is well-equipped to contend with Trinity’s offense. When UWRF started drives in its own territory last week, the Cru defense put forth a number of exceptional third-down stops, and Omari Frazier forced and recovered a fumble that led to a UMHB touchdown.
Obviously, limiting Trinity to fewer than 45 points will be necessary in securing a victory, and with a number of talented starters on that side of the ball (and likely more favorable starting field position), UMHB has an excellent chance to do just that.
3 players to watch
QB Isaac Phe: Phe demonstrated a good dual-threat ability in just over a quarter of play against UWRF, with a strong arm and good footwork in the pocket. He was 5-for-14, throwing for 97 yards and a touchdown. Additionally, per a review of UMHB’s program statistics, Phe is just the second quarterback not born in Texas to see action for UMHB since 2013. A native of Pasadena, California, he joins Luke Poorman (Florida) in that unique category.
DT Mason Cavness: Cavness led The Cru in tackles in Week 1, with 10, and also tallied a team-best 3.0 tackles for loss. Nine of his 10 tackles were solo tackles, and Cavness is expected to be a key force on the defensive line yet again in Week 2.
K/P Jack Bruner: A sophomore, Bruner was named the ASC’s Special Teams Player of the Week after converting on all three of his field goal attempts against UWRF, including a 40-yarder in the third quarter. Additionally, after getting past a series of punting miscues early in the contest, Bruner ended up delivering several quality punts, two of which traveled more than 50 yards. Look for him to have a positive impact on special teams against Trinity.
Trinity comes off a heartbreaking 34-31 overtime loss at No. 4 Saint John’s last Saturday, having struggled down the stretch with three straight turnovers. But for the first three quarters, Trinity had its way in Collegeville, and this is an experienced team eager to make a third straight NCAA playoff appearance.
The Tigers racked up 373 yards through the air, and their passing attack is arguably the best amongst Texas’ D-III programs, led by quarterback Tucker Horn. He has a number of reliable targets downfield, and Trinity balances its completions well amongst that pool of receivers. The rushing attack accounted for just 65 yards of the total offense against SJU, and last season, tallied an average of 164 yards per game on the ground. But Winston Hutchison can break for a big run if given the chance, and UMHB’s defensive front needs to be ready.
Defensively, Trinity is well-equipped for every offense it will face throughout the regular season, with a group of veteran standouts, including Preseason All-America linebacker Caleb Harmel. This is a unit that allowed just 9.9 points per game in 2022, and held an explosive SJU offense to a mere 14 points over the first three quarters last Saturday.
3 players to watch
QB Tucker Horn: Arguably one of the nation’s best signal callers at the D-III level, Horn is a fifth-year senior and a two-time SAA Offensive Player of the Year. With 30 career games under his belt, Horn has thrown for 5,843 yards and 59 touchdowns, ranking in the Top 10 in program history in both of those categories. A dynamic passer, he is incredibly consistent and a tough matchup for opposing defenses. After getting banged up towards the end of the Saint John’s game, Horn is likely questionable to start against UMHB.
LB Caleb Harmel: A headlining name on an experienced defensive front, the Burton, Texas native tallied six tackles and two pass breakups in the season opener. He can do it all for Trinity’s defense, and is one of eight defensive fifth-year seniors on the roster.
K Tyler Huettel: A Preseason All-America selection last year before being sidelined for virtually the entirety of the season, Huettel looked good in the season opener at SJU. He converted on his lone field goal attempt (a 26-yarder) and recorded touchbacks on all six of his kickoffs. The kicking game has potential to play a decisive factor in a contest as tight as this one is anticipated to be.
WATCH: Livestream available via Trinity University Youtube
LISTEN: Ward Whites and Jon Wallin will have the call once again over the airwaves in Temple/Belton on 93.9 FM
STATS: Live stats can be found through StatBroadcast
True To The Cru will also be on the ground in San Antonio, covering all of the action. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for in-game updates. Postgame coverage to come on TrueToTheCru.com.
ASC Week 2 Schedule (ASC team listed first)
Saturday, Sept. 9
Sul Ross State vs. Eastern New Mexico, 12 p.m., Alpine, Texas
Austin @ Rhodes, 1:00 p.m., Memphis, Tennessee
McMurry @ Millsaps, 1:00 p.m., Jackson, Mississippi
Hardin-Simmons @ UW-La Crosse, 1:00 p.m., La Crosse, Wisconsin
Howard Payne vs. SAGU, 6:00 p.m., Brownwood, Texas
UMHB @ Trinity (TX), 6:00 p.m., San Antonio, Texas
ETBU vs. Hendrix, 7:00 p.m., Marshall, Texas
Texas Lutheran @ Southwestern, 7:00 p.m., Georgetown, Texas