Trinity overpowers BSC to hand Panthers first gridiron loss of season

Box Score

The Trinity Tigers, aided by three first-half Birmingham-Southern turnovers, handed the Panthers their first loss of the season, 38-28, in Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference play today at Panther Stadium on the BSC campus.

BSC fell to 3-1 overall and 0-1 in SCAC play. Trinity evened its record with the win at 2-2. The Tigers improved to 1-2 in the SCAC.

Birmingham-Southern is now 0-4 against perennial league power Trinity since reinstating its football program in 2007. Trinity has won 14 SCAC Championships and made 11 appearances in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

After an exchange of punts to start the game, Birmingham-Southern drove the ball to the Trinity six yard line, before a fumble by senior quarterback Joe Thigpen was recovered by the Wildcats.

The Panthers would turn it over again on their next offensive possession. This time Trinity’s Tyler Barrett picked off a Thigpen pass and the Wildcats took over on the BSC 39. The Panther defense stiffened, forcing Trinity’s Preseason All-American kicker Garrett Biel to hit a long 49-yard field goal. Trinity took an early 3-0 lead after one quarter.

Both offenses got untracked in the second quarter, combining for 35 points.

Following the Trinity kickoff, Birmingham-Southern drove 66 yards in 14 plays to take the lead, with sophomore quarterback Jimmy Stainback taking over under center for Thigpen, who left the game with a leg injury on the first play of the second quarter and would not return. Senior tailback Walter Arrington scored BSC’s first touchdown from the one yard line. Ryan Laughlin’s extra point put the Panthers up 7-3 with 10:13 to go in the first half.

Trinity would take the lead for good on the ensuing possession. Senior running back Kyle Lewis would cap a 65-yard, four-play drive with a two-yard scoring run. The big play of the drive was a 41-yard pass from senior wide receiver Caleb Urban, who took the shotgun snap from the wildcat formation, to senior wide receiver Daniel South. Biel’s point after touchdown put Trinity up 10-7.

Birmingham-Southern’s third turnover of the first half would help Trinity extend its lead to 10. A fumbled snap by Stainback was recovered by the Tigers at the BSC 44 yard line. Ten plays later, senior quarterback Robert Davidson would carry it in from the one to put Trinity up 17-7.

The Panthers would quickly close the gap, however. On the first play of its next possession, Stainback connected with senior wide receiver Chris Mauck on a 59-yard catch and run to pull BSC within 17-14 with 2:34 to go in the first half.

But Trinity wasn’t finished. The Tigers wasted little time getting the points back, as Davidson hit freshman running back Desmond King out of the backfield on a 47-yard scoring strike with just 25 seconds remaining in the first half giving Trinity a 24-14 halftime lead.

The offensive fireworks fizzled for much of the third quarter, until Trinity put the game out of reach with 2:24 left in the third frame. Lewis scored his second touchdown of the game from the two yard line and the Tigers took a three touchdown lead at 31-14. The Trinity drive covered 62 yards in nine plays.

Birmingham-Southern attempted to get back into the game just moments later when sophomore tailback Shawn Morris scored from the nine with 12:43 left in game to pull BSC to within 31-21. The seven-play, 48-yard drive began after an interception by Panther sophomore safety Chris Reeves.

Trinity pushed the lead back to 21 with 3:20 to go on a 30-yard scamper by King.

Birmingham-Southern closed the scoring on the day with 35 seconds remaining on Arrington’s second touchdown, this time from the six yard line to make the final score 38-28.

Trinity finished with 21 first downs on the day, to BSC’s 19. The Tigers piled up 412 yards total offense, including 248 on the ground. The Panthers were held to 297 total yards, and only 121 rushing.

Lewis finished with 160 yards rushing and two touchdowns for Trinity. Davidson was 5-10 passing for 75 yards and one touchdown.

Birmingham-Southern was led in rushing by Morris with 58 yards on nine carries and one touchdown. Arrington added two touchdowns on the ground. Stainback completed 13 of 17 passes for 157 yards and one score.

Defensively, the Panthers were led by Reeves with nine total tackles and the interception. Freshman linebacker Cameron Budzius also had an interception.

Birmingham-Southern hits the road again Oct. 9 as the Panthers travel to Danville, Ky., to face conference foe Centre College at 12:30 p.m. in Farris Stadium. It will be BSC’s third road game of the season.