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Trinity tops Cenla in high-scoring game

Trinity’s Demarcus Fleming, right, carries the ball down the field for a touchdown thanks to Dre McCoy, far left, and his block of Cenla Christian defender Logan Bryan Friday night. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)
Trinity’s Demarcus Fleming, right, carries the ball down the field for a touchdown thanks to Dre McCoy, far left, and his block of Cenla Christian defender Logan Bryan Friday night. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Trinity Episcopal got big games from senior quarterback Michael Whitley and sophomore running back Demarcus Fleming as the Saints had to rally in the second half to defeat the Celna Christian Academy Lions 44-34 Friday night.

In a game that went nearly three and a half hours long and had a combined 55 passing attempts, it was the legs of Whitley that allowed Trinity Episcopal to escape with the win.

First, he scored on a four-yard run with 2:25 to go in the third quarter and his two-point conversion pass to Quinton Logan gave the Saints a 36-34 lead. Then he scored on a 3-yard run and his two-point conversion run with 2:53 left in the game gave Trinity a 44-34 lead.

“It was an extremely hard-fought game between two athletic teams,” Saints head coach Josh Loy said. “It was two good teams battling it out. Someone had to lose, and I’m glad it wasn’t us.”

Fleming accounted for three touchdowns in the game. He scored on a one-yard run less than a minute into the game, a two-yard run early in the second quarter and on a 35-yard pass from Whitley late in the second quarter that gave the Saints a 28-26 halftime lead. Fleming finished with 95 yards rushing on 21 carries.

Whitley completed 17 of 28 passes for 278 yards, which also included an 85-yard touchdown pass to Quinton Logan with 9:01 left in the first quarter. Whitley also had 18 carries for 96 yards and the two key late touchdown runs.

“We knew coming in that they threw it a lot. We had to make some plays in the passing game,” Loy said. “When we had to make plays, we made them. We found a way to win the game.”

Trinity had a balanced offense in the game — 206 total rushing yards to go with the 278 passing yards.

For much of the first three quarters, Trinity’s defense had a hard time slowing down Cenla Christian’s passing attack as well as the running of Reuben Armstrong. Those two factors allowed the Lions to not only stay in the game, but grab a 34-32 lead when Armstrong scored on a 61-yard run and Darrius Mason threw to Bjorn Davis on the ensuing two-point conversion with 4:51 remaining in the third quarter.

“We made a lot of mistakes,” Loy said. “We missed a ton of tackles.”

Mason also threw three touchdown passes to three different receivers — Davis on a 33-yard pass in the first quarter, La’Montrell Goudeau on a 23-yard pass early in the second quarter and J. Ray Battles on a 13-yard pass nearly midway through the second quarter.

However, the Saints buckled down in the second half and held the Lions to just eight points. Despite having to come from behind to prevail with the win, they held the Lions to eight points in the second half.

The game not only had a lot of passing, but a lot of penalties. Trinity was penalized 11 times, but for just 75 yards. Cenla Christian, on the other hand, was penalized 15 times for 141 1/2 yards.

“We left some points on the board. We had a touchdown called back on a penalty and we fumbled the ball when we were going in,” Loy said. “That could have changed the outcome some.”

Trinity Episcopal (1-0) hits the road for a 7 p.m. game next Friday at Centreville Academy.