Trinity Christian Academy’s football team accomplished four things Thursday night in a 27-17 win over Jackson Christian.
The Lions claimed the Division II-A West region championship and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
The completed their seniors’ final regular season with a big victory.
They got a big rivalry win over one of their neighboring schools.
They spoiled what was a perfect season for that rival school.
In addition to all that, the win represents a monumental shift in momentum in a game that will be remembered for years to come by the Lion faithful.
“This win is special because this team is special,” said TCA’s first year head coach Darren Bowling. “Every team starts over new, whether the coach is new or not.
“But this group of guys – including the seniors – embraced me, and because the seniors accepted the way I do things, the underclassmen have felt that too.”
The night started well for Jacksonn Christian as they were up 7-0 and marching down the field to score again when star wide receiver Jay’Len Mosley went down with an apparent knee injury. He remained on the sidelines in for the rest of the quarter and was carted off during halftime.
By the time the game was complete, he was back on the sidelines on crutches.
“When you lose a leader like that, it’s obviously going to affect your team,” said Jackson Christian head coach Darby Palmer, and not having him out there after halftime left a void out on the field.
“But this team is resilient and willing to step in and do what it need to win, and I’m proud of them for the way they fought in the second half. But credit TCA. They made plays when we didn’t, and they won the game.”
Jackson Christian kicked a field goal on the possession for a 10-0 lead.
After TCA responded with a field goal of its own to cut the lead to 10-3, Jackson Christian answered with a long touchdown pass and a 14-point lead just before the half.
That lead came close to growing on the final play of the first half when Jackson Christian had an interception to end the half and returned it back to about midfield.
“We got into the locker room and knew our guys were panicking there at the end of the half, and we just needed to calm down and simply play a better brand of football,” Bowling said.
The Lions scored on their first possession of the second half to pull within a touchdown. They tied the game minutes later after they got the ball after an inadvertent onside kick in which the kick was supposed to go far away and instead hit a Jackson Christian player and bounced back toward TCA’s players, who covered the ball for an unexpected possession.
Which they took advantage of the opportunity and tied the game with a touchdown minutes later.
With TCA in full control of the game, Jackson Christian had a hard time holding onto the ball, giving the Lions the opportunity to cover a pair of fumbles that led to points q couple minutes later.
Once TCA got up by 10 early in the fourth quarter, Jackson Christian couldn’t cut into the lead.
When the game was over, Palmer was quick to tell his team that this loss doesn’t affect his team’s ability to achieve their main goals.
“We’re still in the playoffs and still playing at home, but we’ve got a different path to take than we would had we won tonight,” Palmer said.
Lekhy Thompkins, the sophomore running back for TCA, said the win and everything that came with it was big for the Lions.
“I’ve been here since eighth grade, and this is the first time we’ve beaten them, and we can get ready for the playoffs now,” Thompkins said.
Brandon Shields, firstname.lastname@example.org