Each time Trinity Academy quarterback Matt Jones drops back to pass, the Knights know he’ll make the right reads and accurate passes.
He’s got the arm strength to throw a finger-breaking pass, and the Knights receivers know if they run their routes correctly, the ball will be there.
Through four games, though, Jones has attempted 37 passes.
“We haven’t given him that opportunity to shine,” Trinity Academy coach Jared McDaniel said. “We haven’t needed that opportunity.”
Trinity needed Jones on Friday night at Cheney, and he came through with 177 passing yards and three touchdowns in the Knights’ 38-7 victory.
Trinity improved to 5-0 for the first time in school history, while Cheney fell to 4-1.
“His number hasn’t been called all year because (running back Tyler) Burns has been so successful,” McDaniel said. “Tonight they were keying on Tyler a lot. We’ve known Matt has the capability, and tonight he had a chance to show it.”
Jones completed 13 of his first 14 passes, including 11 straight, and finished 15 of 20. He ran for a four-yard touchdown early in the second quarter for the 14-0 lead, then threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Kuntz to go up 20-0 with 4:44 to go in the second period.
With 8:19 remaining, Cheney lost its fourth fumble —the Cardinals fumbled on three straight possessions in the fourth quarter, and also fumbled on the game’s first play.
Five plays into the possession, Jones took the snap, fumbled it, calmly picked it up under pressure and threw to a wide-open Kuntz for 14 yards.
“Fluke play,” Jones said. “I found the ball, I found my read, and he was open. He did the rest for me.”
Cheney’s plan to stop Burns was evident early. The Cardinals packed the line of scrimmage with defenders, and on eight of Burns’ first nine carries, he had a combined 16 yards.
“I think they were keying pretty heavy on the run,” Burns said. “I don’t know why. We can pass with the best. Our receivers run good routes, and Matt can run (the offense) with the best … in the state.”
Burns is dangerous, though, and teams may be able to slow him. But not for long.
His third carry went for 25 yards, setting up his first of three touchdowns, an eight-yard carry just over three minutes into the game.
He finished with 152 yards on 29 carries, only 20 fewer than his total number of carries after four games. Burns, who also had an interception, now has 846 rushing yards.
Cheney’s troubles started immediately with a fumble on the game’s first play.
“As soon as we fumbled that first play and we lost it, I saw our kids deflate a little bit,” Cheney coach Cory Brack said.
“We hadn’t had that adversity yet. This game was good for us because I thought defensively we played pretty well for three quarters. We can’t turn the ball over five time and have that many penalty yards. Our discipline was very lacking tonight, and that was on me.”
Trinity’s defense didn’t help Cheney’s cause — it held the Cardinals to 67 rushing yards.
“Defense has come up huge for us the last couple weeks,” McDaniel said. “…when they saw their key, they reacted and we had good results from it.”
T — Burns 8 run (List kick)
T — Jones 4 run (List kick)
T — Kuntz 17 pass from Jones (miss kick)
T — Burns 2 run (miss kick)
C — Trego 3 run (Craig kick)
T — Kuntz 14 pass from Jones (miss kick)
T — Burns 14 run (miss kick)
Rushing — Trinity, Burns 29-152, Jones 10-14. Cheney, Grover 9-44, Trego 15-37, Watson 5-14, Wheelock 15-(-28).
Passing — Trinity, Jones 15-20-177-0. Cheney, 2-8-29-1.
Receiving — Trinity, Kuntz 9-91, Osborne 6-86. Cheney, Benward 1-25, Heck 1-4.