Varsity Football: Special Teams Were Extra Special in Season-Opening Win at Raines

Raymond Bureau | August, 2021

Kick returners combined for 170 return yards and a touchdown, the field goal defense blocked 2 extra-point attempts, the punt defense took a possession away on downs, and 6 kicked points were the difference as the Trinity Christian Academy Conquerors scored 17 unanswered points in a comeback win over the Vikings of Raines High School in the 2021 regular season opener Friday night on the road.

Kickoff returner Cam Miller returned a 1st-quarter kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown that put the Conquerors on the board after Raines scored its 2nd touchdown of the period. With 4:22 left in the first, Miller caught the ball at the 2 and ran straight up the middle. After crossing the 15, he cut toward the right sideline, slipped past 1 coverage man who got a hand on him, and outran all others for the touchdown.

After the defense forced a 3-and-out early in the 2nd quarter, punt returner Xander Ross caught the ball at the Trinity 49 and nearly equaled Miller’s feat but was brought down at the 1. Raines held tight on defense for the first 2 attempts of running back Darnell Rogers to break the plane, but Rogers succeeded on 3rd down by cutting through the right side of the line to score the touchdown that helped pull the Conquerors to within 4 at 18-14.

Trinity took the lead for good just before halftime when Rogers scored his 2nd touchdown of the night. This 3-yard score followed his 12-yard dash that started at the 15 after Cam Anderson and Caden Morrell stopped Raines punter Kyree Hammond, who dropped the snap and tried to run for the 1st down.

TCA Kicker Seth Bialek converted all 3 extra-point attempts, and he hit a crucial 21-yard field goal that gave Trinity a 6-point 3rd-quarter lead at 24-18, which eventually forced Raines to go 95 yards in the game’s final 2 minutes.

Raines, though, moved the ball briskly down the field thanks in large part to quarterback Carleton Butler’s 25 yards on the ground and 35-yard pass to Kareem Burke to the Trinity 48. Cam Anderson’s sack of Butler erased 13 more yards gained. Two plays later, Trinity’s Tomarion McCray forced Butler to hurry and miss his target on 3rd and 16 from the Trinity 39.

On 4th and 16 with 42 seconds left, McCray forced another hurry, but Butler found Burke open in the end zone. Burke had the ball in his hands while still in the air, but TCA cornerback Tyler Jackson made the defensive play of the night by coming from the flank and knocking the ball out of Burke’s hands before Burke landed for a game-saving pass defense.

Raines scored all 18 points in the first quarter. A 7-yard Pick 6 from Craig Jenkins only 25 seconds in and a 30-yard touchdown run from Darnell Cummings gave the Vikings a 12-0 lead at the 4:37 mark. Trinity’s LeAnthony Stephens blocked the 1st extra-point attempt, and a 2-point attempt fell through the receiver’s hands in the end zone after the 2nd touchdown.
Raines answered Miller’s big return by driving 67 yards on only 2 plays. Butler hit a wide-open Burke with a 69-yard bomb on 2nd and 12 at the 31. Stephens, though, deflected the ensuing extra-point attempt, and the ball streamed underneath the upright.

The defense held Raines scoreless from that point on. Anderson had a fumble recovery, and Taye Brown intercepted a Butler pass.

Rogers had runs of 13, 15, 16, 31, and 60 yards as part of his 29-carry, 250-yard, 2-touchdown performance for the Conquerors. Miller totaled 120 yards and touchdown on 4 kickoff returns, and Ross went 50 yards on his lone punt return. Bialek was perfect in 3 PAT and 1 field goal attempt while totaling 108 yards on 3 punts.

For Raines, Butler competed 11 of 24 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown while 4 rushers combined for 101 yards on 28 carries, led by Cummings with 39 yards and Butler with 29.

The Conquerors will play their next 3 games at home beginning with Ribault on Friday, September 3. Zarephath Academy and Clearwater Academy International will follow on September 10 and 17, respectively. All 3 games will begin at 7:30 p.m.

PHOTO: Trinity Christian Football (@TC_Jax Football) on Twitter
STATISTICS: Larry Withers, TCA Statistician

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