The paradox was evident by the time the game was over and the Denison Yellow Jackets had found a way to beat the Trinity Christian-Addison Trojans, 28-24, at Munson Stadium. It was nice to see how the home team found a way to hang in there, falling behind by three scores, and come out on the winning side. Of course, there were the things that led to them being down by 17 points in the first place. The match-up between these two programs had usually been a track meet pushing near, if not over, a combined triple-digits. The latest installment felt like a bit of a slog at times, yet a victorious slog is better than a losing one.
It was over when — Zaelin Wimbish intercepted Michael Callahan with 8:40 left in the game. Trinity Christian had taken over in Denison territory (45-yard line) after a muffed punt and in a great spot to go down and take a 31-28 lead. A Yellow Jacket penalty on third-and-18 gave the Trojans a first down. On third-and-six from the Denison 34, Callahan took a shot deep to the right side and Wimbish was already tracking that direction from his safety spot, picked off the throw at the 15, then returned it 29 yards. It was the last time Trinity Christian ran a play in Jacket territory.
It was really over when — A bad snap went over Callahan’s head with under three minutes left to play. Since a touchdown could still win the game, and the Trojans were starting at their 20-yard line with all three timeouts, Denison needed to get one final stop. After picking up a first down, TCA faced third-and-15 due to a penalty at its 26 and was in four-down territory anyway. That’s when the snap was high and covered by the Trojans at their own five. A punt on fourth-and-36 followed and Denison ran out the clock.
Player of the Game — Ty McFail. The senior got the scoring started for Denison with a 22-yard TD catch on fourth-and-seven in the second quarter where he was able to gain the edge on the right side and had the deciding points on an 18-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter with a nice cut outside to the left side. Plus he had several key tackles from his safety spot and forced a fumble on special teams that Denison recovered in the end zone for a score.
Play of the Game — Bralynn Ramsey and Cade Gordy force an incomplete pass less than two minutes into the third quarter. Trinity Christian was up 17-14 and recovered a muffed kickoff return, starting at the Denison 28-yard line. The first two snaps gained two yards. Third down was an incomplete pass. Facing fourth-and-eight, the Trojans went for it, eschewing a field goal — no doubt based on David Asche missing a 26-yarder right before the first half ended. Gordy blitzed from the right side, Ramsey came from the same direction after beating his man and jumped over a cut block from the back. The efforts forced Callahan to hurry and throw off his back foot, just out of the reach of his intended target on what would have been a first down. Any points there would have changed things, especially since TCA did score next and take a 24-14 lead. If it had been 27 or even 31-14? Perhaps too big of a deficit to overcome.
The good — Being able to shake off a 17-0 deficit by the middle of the second quarter and come back for the victory. The offense looked a lot better in the second half. Denison had seven possessions, including back-t0-back TD drives to take the lead for good, and the last one of the night could have ended with a score but Denison knelt on it at the two-yard line. The Jackets had nearly 200 yards in the second half and almost all of it was on the ground. The unit also didn’t have a turnover on the night. The defense was outstanding. TCA finished with 144 yards on 74 plays, including 50 carries for 49 yards. Even taking out the two bad snaps and that is 48 rushes for 105 yards which is really, really good. TCA didn’t score on its final five possessions and just once in its last nine drives. Special teams saw a nice punt return by Keleon Vaughn near the end to help salt the victory and the group took advantage of a bad snap on a punt that led to a fumble recovery in the end zone by Javen Stewart.
The bad — Falling behind 17-0 by the middle of the second quarter. That deficit was due to struggles on offense and special teams. The offense did very little in the first half, gaining just 56 yards on six possessions and 36 of that came on a scoring drive. There were three three-and-outs. Defensively there was little to complain out. The unit was put in some bad spots and the only extended drive by Trinity Christian didn’t result in points. On special teams, in the first half there was a bad snap on a punt that led to TCA getting possession at the Denison 10 and a punt that was deflected off an upman also came deep in Jacket territory. In the second half the kickoff to start the third was muffed by Wimbish and Kenny Gaffney later muffed a punt in Denison territory. There were a couple of ill-time penalties as well.
District dish — Close to a split decision for 5-5A on the opening weekend. Joining Denison in victory was Denton Ryan, which beat Lancaster 57-40, and Denton, which topped Lake Dallas, 20-15. Sherman lost against Sulphur Springs, 42-21, Denton Braswell lost to Eaton, 37-3, Wichita Falls was beaten by Sweetwater, 35-10, and Wichita Falls Rider lost to Mansfield Legacy, 28-7. This week, Denison is joined by Sherman in Frisco on Thursday as the Bearcats take on Frisco Liberty at The Star, Denton Ryan faces Mesquite Poteet, Denton plays Sanger, Braswell takes on Frisco Independence, Rider goes up against Lubbock Coronado and Wichita Falls battles Cleburne.
Stinging stats of the week — Denison won its season opener for the third time in four years…The Jackets are now 3-1 against Trinity Christian…Denison and TCA were held under 30 points in this match-up for the first time…Ty McFail had the first varsity carries of his career, gaining 46 yards and a TD on six rushes…McFail also caught the first pass of his varsity career, for a 22-yard TD…Bubba Roberts caught the first pass of his varsity career, for five yards…D.J. Gray had the first carry of his varsity career, for six yards…Gray tied his career high with three catches…Logan Wagner and Javen Stewart recovered fumbles…Zaelin Wimbish had an interception…DeCurious Smith blocked an extra point…TCA quarterback Michael Callahan had 33 carries for 48 yards…26 of the Trojans’ 50 rushes gained two yards or less and 12 of them lost yards. Only six went for more than four yards.