Trinity Academy quarterback Sam Hardin’s first career start at quarterback will forever be memorable as the junior was able to pick apart the Cheney defense en route to a 36-21 season-opening win.
“Our receivers were getting open and the scramble was working, so that worked a lot of the time,” Hardin said. “Our linemen stepped up and our receivers knew when I was scrambling to get open.”
Hardin completed 13 of 24 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Hardin also ran the ball 17 times for 81 yards, using his shifty footwork to make plays happen that could have ended with a loss behind the line.
“That’s what he’s done all summer for us,” Trinity coach Jared McDaniel said. “He was knew to the system last year and got his feet wet, he’s a good one.”
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The Knights jumped on top early on two touchdown passes from Hardin, one from 19 yards to Caden Williams followed by a 29-yard connection to a wide-open Ethan Bennett.
“Their quarterback is one of the best I’ve seen, to be honest,” Cheney coach Cory Brack said. “He was able to do it with his feet and his arm, he’s got it all and will make a lot of plays this year for them.”
Cheney’s offense was unable to get anything going on the Knights defensive presence of K-State commitment Ben Adler and Bennett. The Cardinals first three drives ended in a punt, turnover on downs and a punt, a concept that didn’t change much throughout the game.
The Knights offense was working on all cylinders, whether it be via the passing game led by Hardin or the running game. Trinity’s offense got a huge second half boost from senior Sam Schroeder. Schroeder had 26 rushes for 76 yards in the second half and two rushing touchdowns to help seal the win.
“It was huge in the second half to just drain the clock,” Schroeder said. “Give a lot of credit to our line they did a really good job tonight. We had guys that didn’t think they were going to get to play today step in and fill in on the line for us.”
The Cardinals went into the halftime trailing, 22-7, but scored on the first drive of the second half on a 17-yard pass from Micah Grover to Hunter Adolph to cap a 64-yard drive and cut the deficit down to seven.
“I was proud of our fight in the second half,” Cheney coach Cory Brack said. “Our guys didn’t give up, we made a few more mistakes than we should have, but the good thing about playing a team like this week one is we learn a lot about our team right out of the gate.”
Trinity’s defense stepped up when they were called upon as the Cheney offense was moving inside the 25-yard line with under three minutes to go. The Knights stuffed the wide receiver screen out and forced a turnover on downs and kept the 36-21 lead in their favor. It was one of four times that the Knights’ defense forced a turnover on downs.
“Defense was big for us all night,” McDaniel said. “I think we held them on fourth-and-3 or less two or three times tonight, so that was just huge for us.”
TA — Williams 19 pass from Hardin (Hardin pass)
TA — Bennett 29 pass from Hardin (O’Neil kick)
C — Scheer 24 pass from Grover (Patterson kick)
TA — Liam Reusser 6 pass from Hardin (O’Neil kick)
C — Adolph 17 pass from Grover (Patterson kick)
TA — Schroeder 5 run (O’Neil kick)
TA — Schroeder 2 run (O’Neil kick)
C — Grover 2 run (Patterson kick)
Rushing — Cheney, Ray 6-48, Haas 9-34, Grover 11-11, Howell 3 (-5). Trinity, Hardin 17-81, Schroeder 26-76.
Passing — Cheney, Grover 19-28-168-2-0. Trinity, Hardin 13-24-210-3-1.
Receiving — Cheney, Scheer 6-68, Adolph 6-46, Petz 4-34, Mason 3-20. Trinity, Bennett 4-97, Williams 5-66, Mack 2-33, Dreiling 1-8, Reusser 1-6.