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No. 5 Trinity defeats No. 12 UMHB Football, 35-16, in pivotal non-conference matchup

SAN ANTONIO- Under the lights of Trinity’s stadium on Saturday night, No. 12 UMHB showed an improved sense of effort after taking a Week 1 loss at UW-River Falls. They were never out of the game against fifth-ranked Trinity, but on this particular night, the Tigers simply made more plays. 

Trinity prevailed 35-16, shutting out UMHB in the second half, after taking a 21-16 lead into halftime. 

“This experience has got to help us,” UMHB head coach Larry Harmon remarked postgame. “I understand we’re taking our lumps and we’re not used to it. But we have to stick together and figure out a way.” 

The Cru gets another opportunity against a Top 10 opponent next Saturday, and it will be on their home turf. No. 8 UW-Whitewater (2-0), fresh off a 56-28 win over No. 4 Saint John’s, will visit Belton in an anticipated home opener for The Cru. 

“I have all the confidence in the world in the players and coaches,” Harmon added. “We’re just in a tough time. We have to fight through it and get a win.” 

It gave Trinity its first win over The Cru since the 2002 season, when current Tigers head coach Jerheme Urban was a wide receiver on the team. The victory comes after the Tigers were eliminated from the NCAA Playoffs by UMHB in each of the last two seasons. 

“Going into this week, we really tried to talk about experiences,” Urban said following the momentum-building win. “This is a program that has been around for 25 years and since 2002, they’ve been the class of Texas. This was very similar for us to our Wheaton game last year. We had a chance to come in and play a perennial power. We really look at competition as nothing other than a chance to test ourselves.” 

Trinity struck first, ending its first two drives of the first half with touchdowns as the Tigers raced out to a 14-0 lead. Quarterback Tucker Horn, with poise in the pocket, completed 14 of his 21 first-half passes for 155 yards. 

“That’s something that we focused on a lot this offseason was throwing the first punch and coming out hot because we did not do that last year,” Horn, who threw for three touchdowns, said. “The UMHB defense encompasses a lot. I have so much respect for those guys. 

“The guys up front, the guys on the second level and the guys on the third level. They fly around and they’re so well-coached. You have to start fast against those guys, so that they aren’t able to rally as quickly.”

Two of those 14 first-half completions resulted in scoring plays for the hosts, much to the delight of the large crowd donning maroon. After converting on four third downs in the game’s opening possession, Horn found Ethan Boyer in the back right corner of the end zone for a 23-yard score. 

Nearly eight minutes later, it was Legend Grigsby’s turn, as the senior running back broke multiple tackles en route to a 46-yard rushing touchdown. 

It took time, but UMHB’s offense soon found a similar rhythm as the first two quarters elapsed. Isaac Phe, in his first collegiate start at quarterback, displayed confidence as a passer. Four of his first five passes reached their targets, and he finished the opening half 13-of-18 for 171 yards. Not a bad start against a stringent defense like Trinity’s. 

His first “big” gain came on a 31-yard strike to Jerry Cephus down the right sideline. That led to a 26-yard run from Kenneth Miller Jr., setting up Kenneth Cormier Jr.’s three-yard rushing score. With the deficit cut in half, UMHB’s confidence improved. 

Horn led Trinity on another successful scoring drive early in the second quarter, capping it off with a 28-yard touchdown pass. But the Cru responded by scoring the final nine points of the second quarter, thanks to a Jack Bruner 31-yard field goal, and an eight-yard touchdown pass to Miller Jr. just before halftime. 

Both defenses took a step forward coming out the break, which was evident based on the third quarter. Trinity had the lone scoring play, as Horn found Caleb Crawford in the end zone for a 14-yard score. That came one play after Caleb Harmel jumped in front of a pass from Phe and pulled down an interception; his second of the game. 

“I can’t say enough about Caleb,” Urban said. “It’s such a blessing to have him on our team. Not only for his ability, but just as a young man. His character, his work ethic, his leadership are absolutely incredible.”  

But outside of that score, UMHB’s defensive front kept Trinity’s potent offense at bay. Myles Terry sacked Horn, ending the Tigers’ first drive of the second half. And on a long third down early in the fourth quarter, Horn was sacked in the backfield forcing a second straight Trinity punt. It was a notable improvement, considering Trinity scored on four of its five first-half possessions.

But unfortunately for the UMHB offense, Trinity’s defense also surged over the final two quarters. Though there were spurts in which the Crusaders moved the ball upfield, five of their seven possessions in the second half ended in punts. The only exception was Harmel’s interception in the third and the final drive of the game with under a minute left. 

“We made a lot of plays in the first half on both sides of the football,” Urban noted. “The times we didn’t, we were doing the things that get us in to trouble. Running the wrong routes, not in the right coverage checks, too many guys talking and not having one voice back there. So we got some of that cleaned up.”

Trinity employed a mostly run-based offensive attack as the clock wound down in the fourth. Leading by 12 points, the Tigers picked up 89 rushing yards in the second half, led by Winston Hutchison, who had 53 yards over the final two quarters. Behind a strong offensive line, Trinity gave UMHB little time for a late rally. The Tigers held possession for 10 minutes, 53 seconds in the fourth, compared to UMHB’s four minutes, seven seconds. Hutchison’s 17-yard rushing touchdown capped the Tigers’ victory with 54 seconds left. 

“Again, this is a great football team,” Urban said. “We’ve got a lot of strong character men. That’s an outstanding football team over there. If it works out to play them again later, it’d be a great honor. Because I have a lot of respect for them.” 

The loss puts UMHB in an uncomfortable position, but eight games remain. The focus is on being the best within conference play, and with a young group, it is a learning process week after week.

“We’re not a senior-led or even junior-led team,” Harmon said. “Of the 62 guys who traveled here, 31 are first-time guys. We’re just trying to grow up fast and unfortunately, because of our past, we’re playing really, really good teams right now. But this will help us.”

Box Score1st2nd3rd4thFinal

UMHB Stat Leaders

Passing: Isaac Phe: 18/30, 231 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT 

Rushing: Kenneth Miller Jr.: 7 carries, 54 yds, Kenneth Cormier Jr.: 15 carries, 47 yds

Receiving: Jerry Cephus: 4 receptions, 88 yds, TJ Rone: 5 receptions, 33 yds

Tackles: Durand Hill: 11 tackles, Myles Terry: 7 tackles, Trace Holmes: 6 tackles

Kicking: Jack Bruner: 1/1 FGs (31 yds)

Team Stats

Team Stat ComparisonUMHBTrinity
Yards of Total Offense291395
Passing Yards231182
Rushing Yards60213
1st Downs1826
Time Of Possession25:0834:52
Average gain per play4.8 yards5.5 yards

ASC scores (ASC team listed first)

Sul Ross State, 12, Eastern New Mexico, 51

Austin College, 17, Rhodes, 19

McMurry, 53, Millsaps, 2

No. 6 Hardin-Simmons, 28, No. 11 UW-La Crosse, 21

Howard Payne, 42, SAGU, 10

ETBU, 38, Hendrix, 37

Texas Lutheran, 39, Southwestern, 7

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