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Trinity Saints wake up in fourth for victory

Trinity’s Demarcus Fleming, left, takes the ball down the field against River Oaks’ Cole Nimmo during the Saints’ 36-7 homecoming win. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)
Trinity’s Demarcus Fleming, left, takes the ball down the field against River Oaks’ Cole Nimmo during the Saints’ 36-7 homecoming win. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — For much of the first three quarters, Trinity Episcopal’s offense was not playing up to the level that it had during the first seven games of the season in earning the No. 1 ranking in MAIS Class A.

But the fourth quarter was all Trinity Episcopal as Demarcus Fleming’s two touchdown runs helped break open a close game as the Saints pulled away for a 36-7 homecoming win over the River Oaks School Mustangs Friday night.

“We came out with the homecoming hangover,” Trinity head coach Josh Loy said. “We came out flat. We didn’t execute the way we normally execute.”

The only scoring of the first half came on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Michael Whitley to Trey Hall just 5 seconds into the second quarter. The two-point conversion pass attempt was no good and the Saints went into halftime with a 6-0 lead.

River Oaks took the lead when Garrett Morgan scored on a 5-yard run and Ryan Moore added the extra point at the 5:33 mark of the third quarter. But instead of the Mustangs putting the Saints on upset alert, the home team took over – and it didn’t take long to do so.

“We had a good discussion at halftime about playing with some more intensity,” Loy said. “It took them scoring to wake us up and realize we were in for a dogfight if we didn’t start playing football. I think that was our wake-up call.”

Just 23 seconds later, Hall scored on a 57-yard run and Fleming ran in for the 2-point conversion to give Trinity the lead for good at 14-7. But the Saints weren’t done putting points on the board.

“Trey made a great run. It gave us the spark we needed,” Loy said. “We played well after that. The offense got its rhythm going.”

Fleming scored on a 2-yard run with 11:25 remaining in the fourth quarter and Whitley connected with Quinton Logan on the 2-point conversion pass. Fleming then scored on a 55-yard run and Whitley ran in for 2 with 6:47 left. Dre’ McCoy scored on a 31-yard pass from Whitley with 3:29 to go.

Both teams ran the ball quite well. Trinity had 259 yards on the ground while River Oaks tallied 210 yards. Fleming finished with 132 yards on 13 carries and Hall had 62 yards on 6 carries.

“He’s really hit his stride, and we need him,” Loy said about Fleming. “He’s had over 100 yards in four straight games.”

Passing-wise, the Saints dominated in that category. Whitley completed 11 of 16 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. McCoy had 3 catches for 52 yards and Jacob Sandrock had 3 catches for 43 yards. The Mustangs, on the other hand, were just 2-for-6 with one interception for 0 net yards.

McCoy also had a fumble recovery and Sandrock had an interception. And it was the defense that kept the Saints in the game while the offense had its struggles.

“We played well on that side of the ball,” Loy said. “We gave up only seven points. We forced some turnovers and our team feeds off that.”

Trinity Episcopal (8-0) has next Friday off before playing at Tallulah Academy in an MAIS District 4-A game at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25.