BY STAFF REPORTS
Trinity Christian spent two-plus quarters trying to get its offense on track during Friday’s Region 5-A opener at home against Mount Vernon.
By the time the Lions did, Mount Vernon did the best thing it could, keeping Trinity off the field and waiting until the final 32 seconds to pull ahead for good in a slim 13-12 decision.
The Lions fell to 4-1 overall and 0-1 in region play with a showdown against Eagle’s Landing Christian in McDonough ahead this week. The Chargers are coming off three consecutive state championships, the first two with current Trinity head coach Kenny Dallas acting as defensive coordinator under longtime head coach Jonathan Guess.
Missed opportunities throughout Friday’s contest against Mount Vernon, however, proved costly for Trinity in a loss where it had a field goal blocked before halftime and two redzone opportunities inside its opponent’s 10-yard line produce just six points between them.
The Mustangs, who finished second to ELCA in the 5-A standings in 2017, improved to 3-1 after winning this year’s region opener.
Chewing up the majority of the final five minutes on their final possession, Mount Vernon used a 20-yard punt return to set up a go-ahead scoring drive inside Lions territory.
Trinity, however, forced third and goal after a pass breakup in the end zone by Jalen Neal in the right corner.
After taking a timeout, the Mustangs went against the grain, spinning quarterback Blake Kytle around to the near side to find fellow sophomore John Neal on a quick catch in front of Neal in one-on-one coverage before the Lions defender could get a hold on him.
By then, Trinity had already left points off the scoreboard while having to settle for two short Ethan Aldridge field goals in hopes of rallying from a 7-0 halftime deficit.
Despite the lone score, Lions penalties in the first half left Trinity in the red when it came to negative total yardage, with a running attack limited before halftime.
The Lions didn’t penetrate Mount Vernon’s 20-yard line until quarterback Carson Walter found Chase Metcalf on a pass. Two snaps later, Shamari Reed took a direct snap to push forward for a third-down conversion inside the 10.
From there, the Mustangs stood their ground on three straight plays in tight formations before having to settle for Aldridge’s 22-yard chip shot with 8:20 left in the third.
Trinity then held Mount Vernon at its own 38 while making a key stop on third-and-2 before getting the ball back deep in its own zone.
After getting some breathing room on a pass from Walter to Cody Jones-Price at the Lions 35, running back Zach Jones slipped through two tacklers at his feet on a jaunt up the middle to put the ball at the Mount Vernon 5.
Again, though, Trinity couldn’t find the end zone, settling for a 28-yard Aldridge field-goal after being pushed back.
Another defensive stand by the Lions included a Bruin Hayes sack to take over at their own 30 early in the fourth quarter.
Trinity opened the ensuing possession with a 20-yard end around from senior Zach Seymour before Jones again broke free on a 50-yard touchdown run.
Opting not to go for a two-point conversion, Trinity had the PAT blocked while having to settle for a 12-7 advantage with 8:59 to play.
Both teams forced punts before Mount Vernon began the eventual go-ahead drive near midfield.