Trinity runs away vs. Cenla, headed to title gamePublished 12:33am Saturday, November 16, 2013
NATCHEZ — The Trinity Episcopal Day School players hoisted head coach Josh Loy on their shoulders, chanting, “Loy’s boys,” as they carried him off the field Friday night.
The Saints had just completed a 48-8 pounding of Cenla Christian Academy in the MAIS Class A state semifinal round, securing a berth in the state title game next Saturday in Jackson. Loy alluded to a tough week leading up to Friday’s matchup, saying the win was a special moment for him.
“Words can’t express (how I feel),” Loy said. “There were a lot of things that happened to us this week. There was a lot of adversity this team overcame.”
Trinity seniors Caleb Cross, Stewart Mallory and Tucker Lewis didn’t play in the game, though Loy declined to discuss their status. And their absence didn’t keep the Saints from steamrolling their way past the state semifinal round, as other seniors rose to the occasion.
Quarterback Michael Whitley was 12-for-20 in passing 226 yards and two touchdowns, and he also tallied three rushing touchdowns. Senior Jacob Sandrock had several big plays for the Saints, pulling in a couple of touchdowns and also getting an interception in Cenla territory to set up another touchdown. He finished with four catches for 61 yards.
“We all really focused this week,” Sandrock said. “Michael Whitley threw some good passes, and the coaches coached us up good.”
Sandrock scored the first touchdown of the game on a 9-yard pass from Whitley with 8:40 left in the first quarter. Whitley made it 14-0 with a 4-yard touchdown run at the 4:25 mark in the first.
Whitley and Sandrock would score again in the second quarter when Whitley punched it in from 1 yard out with 1:45 left in the half. On the ensuing Lions possession, Whitley intercepted a pass, and one play later, he hit Sandrock for a 31-yard touchdown throw with 27 seconds remaining in the second. Trinity led 28-0 at intermission.
Sandrock’s third-quarter interception set up another scoring drive, capped off by a 4-yard pass from Whitley to Dré McCoy with 8:51 left in the third. Cenla finally got on the board with 8:32 left in the third on a 55-yard run by Dezmond Eddie, their only touchdown of the game.
Dee Fleming, who finished with 59 yards rushing, scored on a 14-yard run with 5:45 left in the third, and Whitley capped off Trinity’s scoring with a 1-yard run with three minutes left in the fourth.
Trinity beat Cenla, 44-34, in Week 1 of the season, and Loy said he was preaching to his players that the Lions had scored more points on the Saints than any other team in the regular season. He said he expected a better showing from his defense this week — and they didn’t disappoint, pulling in four interceptions and limiting an explosive Lions offense to just 149 total yards.
“I knew we were capable of that,” Loy said. “Our defense was much-improved, and I knew we would play better. We played with a full heart and a lot of love for each other tonight, and that’s the reason they finished the job.”
One blemish on the Saints’ night was five turnovers — two interceptions and three fumbles lost. Trinity did improve on penalties, as they were flagged four times for minus-30 yards. The Saints lost 100 yards last week on penalties.
“We’re going to clean it up,” Loy said. “We turned the ball over five times and put up 48 points, so we can definitely play better than we did tonight.”
Trinity (12-0) will play Marshall Academy Saturday at Mississippi College.