In a 14-13 win over Maize South, Trinity Academy’s duo of Austin Kessinger and Morgan Burns took a while to get hot, but eventually found its stride and combined for 210 yards Friday night.
“We told the kids at the half that we just have to take those hard yards when we get them and not try to spring the big play,” Trinity coach Tyler Ryan said. “When you see that crease, take what you can get. That was our goal in the second half.”
That strategy worked for Burns as he exploded for 97 of his 116 yards in the second half.
Kessinger was the workhorse for the Knights (5-2, 1-0 Class 4A-District 12) who kept Maize South off balance until Burns found his groove. Kessinger had 20 carries for 94 yards.
“When we’re doing our best is when both of those guys can carry the football,” Ryan said. “It really helps us when people just can’t key on Morgan. We give it to Austin and he just runs so hard, and whenever he makes contact with somebody he’s going to continue to drive forward.”
Mavericks coach Brent Pfeifer took necessary risks late in the game on fourth downs, and the Mavericks (3-4, 0-1) had a chance to drive downfield for a winning score, but Trinity held.
“Our team is a real emotional team,” Pfeifer said. “They play so hard for us and they play so hard for each other. Win or lose, we’re pretty emotional and I love those guys for it.”
On fourth-and-2 from the Trinity 37 with 5:44 to play, Pfeifer took his second calculated risk of a long drive. Quarterback Drake Dukes kept the ball and tried to extend for the first down but came up short, and the clock-eating Knights took over. Dukes had converted on fourth-and-inches from his own 30 with 10:20 to play.
The Mavericks got the ball back with about two minutes left, but their drive stalled at midfield and Trinity ran out the clock.
“We just want to make it through district so bad,” Burns said. “We haven’t made it since I’ve been here. I think that’s what our mindset was those last two drives on defense — to play with passion and with heart.”
Both defenses set the tempo in the first half, forcing offenses to work for every yard. Maize South held Trinity to 96 yards rushing and total offense in the first two quarters.
Burns, Kessinger and the Trinity offense jelled briefly in the second quarter to put together an 87-yard touchdown drive. Burns broke off a 20-yard run, while Kessinger methodically moved the chains to set up a two-yard quarterback keeper by Scott Kempin with 5:27 remaining. Trinity kicker Cooper Mork made the extra point to give Trinity a 7-6 lead.
The Mavericks’ Cody Cotney broke a 34-yard touchdown run with 55 seconds left for his team’s points in the first half. He took a pitch to the left, broke a tackle behind the line of scrimmage and raced to the goal line. He had to high-step into the end zone to avoid a defender.
Trinity (5-2, 1-0) 0 7 7 0 — 14
Maize South (3-4, 0-1) 6 0 7 0 — 13
MS—Cotney 34 run (kick failed)
T—Kempin 2 run (Mork kick)
MS—Rogers 28 run (Calvert kick)
T—Burns 46 run (Mork kick)
Rushing—Trinity, Burns 17-116, Kessinger 20-94, Kempin 5-16, Fewin 2-7. Maize South, Dukes 13-45, Scott 7-32, Cotney 5-42, Wondra 5-36, Rogers 2-32, Phillips 1-1.
Passing—Trinity, kempin 1-3-10. Maize South, Dukes 5-13-42-1.
Receiving—Trinity, Burns 1-10. Maize South, Wondra 2-14, Thurman 1-10, Roger 1-10, Cotney 1-8.