As East Texas Baptist & Trinity remain undefeated, inclement weather forces postponement or cancellation of four NCAA DIII spring games
Just when it looked like college football had put 2020 firmly in the rearview mirror, 2021 dealt a blow of its own.
Only one week into the unprecedented NCAA Division III spring football season, the historic winter weather that put Texas in a frigid deep freeze forced the postponement or cancellation of four games on the six matchup slate for last Saturday. And more schedule changes could be coming this week.
While East Texas State and Trinity were able to extend strong starts with impressive wins last Saturday, Hardin-Simmons’ matchup against West Texas rival Howard Payne, Texas Lutheran’s home game against McMurry and Austin College’s trip to Hendrix in Arkansas were all been postponed. Southwestern’s matchup against Louisiana College fell victim to a cancellation notice.
With both the American Southwestern Conference and Southern Athletic Association planning to play a five-game spring schedule, the teams involved in the three postponed games will look at options to reschedule.
EAST TEXAS BAPTIST 44, BELHAVEN (Miss.) 16
Winning at home in Marshall’s Ornelas Stadium for the first time since Nov. 2019, the East Texas Baptist Tigers dominated the Belhaven (Miss.) Blazers, 44-16 in the American Southwest Conference matchup.
“Obviously, you can’t play for a championship unless you win each game, and we’ve won two in a row, so we’re excited about that,” ETBU head coach Brian Mayper said. “The guys are playing hard. Defensively, I can’t say enough about that. We played lights out.”
Capitalizing for three defensive touchdowns, ETBU junior defensive back KJ Kelley delivered pick sixes while leading the Tigers with 10 takedowns. Producing an impressive team defensive performance against Belhaven (0-2), junior linebacker Donovan Graham recovered a fumble for a score and freshman free safety Kenneth Bradley grabbed an interception, while senior linebacker Justice Henson contributed nine tackles, sophomore defensive lineman James Wright IV seven and junior defensive end Josh Reed notched a sack.
Offensively, ETBU (2-0) got the job done with 315 total yards, led by sophomore quarterback Aaron Brown, who rushed for one touchdown and connected with junior wide receiver Cris Williams for another, while sophomore running back Cornelius Merchant ran for a touchdown.
“Offensively, we kind of stopped ourselves on some plays, but then, we made plays,” Mayper said. “We just need to eliminate all the mistakes and focus in, because a lot of that stuff was self-imposed . But then again, we had some great plays running, throwing and catching the football.”
Following an open week in the schedule, ETBU will travel to Pineville, La., to take on Louisiana College on Feb. 27.
“Being 2-0 feels good after 15 months,” Mayper said. “We need to take it one game at a time, but we’re excited.”
TRINITY (Texas) 37, MILLSAPS (Miss.) 7
Making the most of a long road trip to Mississippi, the Trinity Tigers scored early and often on their way to an overwhelming 37-7 victory over Millsaps College in a Southern Athletic Association matchup last Saturday afternoon.
“Really proud of the guys on earning a big road win against a historically tough conference opponent,” Trinity head coach Jerheme Urban said. “This is a game that has a lot of meaning for a lot of our alumni, as evidenced by the amount of text messages I received this morning. And it is fun seeing our young men buy into that tradition as well. We had a long trip yesterday, and they showed some great mental toughness to come out and play the way they did today.”
Trinity (2-0) scored on its possession of the game on the way to building a commanding 24-0 advantage midway through the second quarter. In the meantime, the Tigers limited Millsaps (0-2) to only 213 yards of total offense, 79 of which came on the Majors only score of the game.
Putting on an offensive showcase with a balanced attack, Trinity piled up 504 total yards by passing for 258 while grinding out 246 on the ground. Quarterback Tucker Horn completed eight of 15 passes for 165 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with Ryan Merrifield for two scores. Michael Edmonson led the ground game with 99 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown.
Defensively, Michael Jewett led the team effort with seven tackles and two sacks, while Ryan Arnold recorded his first career interception.
“I felt like we once again fed off of the energy of our defensive box, which continues to play really good run defense,” Urban said. “And we saw some guys on offense start showing the explosive potential that we have. We also had some guys who really stepped up today with some injuries and played great football as well.”
Trinity returns to San Antonio to host Hendrix (AR) College (1-0) next Saturday at noon. The Warriors won their season opener at Millsap, 37-27, Feb. 6 before seeing their home opener against Austin College postponed due to snow.
“We’ll get home tonight and heal up for a really good Hendrix team next weekend,” Urban said. “They have a really talented QB, and I’m fully expecting them to let him try to throw it all over the yard next Saturday. We’re going to need a really good week of film study to go with whatever minimal work that the weather allows us to get on the field.”
Photos courtesy of EAST TEXAS BAPTIST, HENDRIX COLLEGE ATHLETICS & TRINITY FOOTBALL
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