Seven Rivers Christian spoils Holy Trinity's Homecoming


Larry Hill (8), left, Timmy HIll (58), Devin Braddock (63) and John Rahmes (72) of Holy Trinity chase Markel Pryor of Seven Rivers Christian during Friday's game in Melbourne. Seven Rivers Christian, which is located in Lecanto, spoiled Holy Trinity's Homecoming with a 49-7 victory.

Jeff Navin

Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy celebrated its 60th anniversary during Friday's Homecoming. Seven Rivers Christian played a style of football more than 100 years old as it humbled Holy Trinity 49-7.

The Warriors, who improved to 8-2, used a modified version of the double wing running attack to both whittle time off the clock and tire out the Tigers' defense. Seven Rivers placed six men on the line of scrimmage and two running backs on both sides of quarterback Will Ellis. The tightly bunched unit also used deception as it consistently powered the ball up the middle with slight variations to the right or left with several different ball carriers.

"They run it well,'' Holy Trinity coach Nate Hooks Jr. said. "The young guys played hard, but those 7-, 8-, 9-minute drives just wear you out on defense. Seven Rivers is so disciplined, and they don't commit many penalties.''

Despite the final score, Holy Trinity had its opportunites before the officials ruled that a running clock would be utilized with 9 minutes, 3 seconds remaining in the third quarter. After Brendan Rooks scored on a 10-yard run and Nathan Winstead kicked the extra point to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead with 6:35 to play in the first quarter, Holy Trinity squandered an opportunity to tie the game after it moved the ball to the Seven Rivers' 9-yard line on its first possession of the game.

Larry Hill ran up the middle and cut to the right for a 27-yard gain on third down and, four plays later on fourth down, Preston Milo lofted a 24-yard pass to James Blackstrain on the left side to advance the ball to the Warriors' 9.

On first down, instead of throwing the ball away while he was under pressure, Milo completed a pass to Hill which went for a 7-yard loss. An ensuing run was thwarted for a 2-yard loss and Milo's third-down pass into the end zone was intercepted by Rooks to end the scoring threat.

"When a team is this young and you have a chance, you have to tie the game up at that point,'' Hooks said. "Instead of making it 7-7, it quickly became 14-0. That is so demoralizing for 14 year olds.''

Seven Rivers then drove 80 yards on 14 plays to make it 14-0 as Rooks scored on a 6-yard run up the middle and Winstead kicked the second of what would be seven successful PATs during the contest. The drive whittled 6:05 off the clock. Geoff Banning's 17-yard run was the longest run during the meticulous drive.

After the Tigers failed to earn a first down on their ensuing possession, the Warriors drove 63 yards on 11 plays to extend their lead to 21-0 on Rooks' third scoring run of the game as he sprinted to the right on second down to score with 1:39 remaining in the second quarter.

Milo's 11-yard pass to Blackstrain, his quarterback keeper for 6 yards and and another pass to Blackstrain for 10 yards moved the ball to the Warriors' 38 as Holy Trinity tried to whittle the first-half deficit before halftime. Milo's 9-yard pass to Tyler Forde moved the ball inches shy of a first down at the Seven Rivers' 29, but a completion to Blackstrain over the middle was waved off due to a holding penalty. Two incomplete passes later, Holy Trinity turned the ball over on downs with 26.9 seconds to play in the second quarter.

Any chance the Tigers had to get back into the game were foiled on the third-quarter kickoff as Milo was hit hard on a squib kick and the Warriors recovered the fumble. The injury forced Milo to leave the game and, although he did return at points in the second half, he was not at full strength after injuring his right arm.

Four plays later after the fumble, Rooks scored his fourth touchdown of the game to give the Warriors a 28-0 advantage with 11:04 to play in the third quarter. Three plays later on a second-down run, Holy Trinity lost the ball on a fumble and Seven Rivers took over at the Tigers' 21.

Two plays later, Banning scored on a 9-yard run to extend the Warriors' lead to 35-0. Because of the margin, a running clock was mandated and that shortened the game significantly at the 9:03 mark of the third quarter. Holy Trinity recovered a fumbled punt at the Seven Rivers' 30 and, two plays later, backup quarterback JaLon Hudgins threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Blackstrain in the left corner of the end zone with 6:31 to play in the fourth quarter.

James Linnabary kicked the extra point for the Tigers.

Banning broke two tackles on a run to the right as the Warriors took a 49-7 lead with 2:02 remaining in the contest. Rooks rushed for 134 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries. Banning had 111 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 11 carries, and Winstead added 83 yards rushing and one touchdown on 16 carries. Seven Rivers Christian totaled 391 yards on 52 carries. Its lone pass attempt fell incomplete. The Warriors racked up 20 first downs, and they were penalized just three times for 18 yards. Holy Trinity had just 117 yards of total offense with 43 yards rushing on 13 carries. Milo completed 6 of 15 passes for 49 yards, and Hudgins completed 1 of 3 passes for 25 yards and one touchdown.

The Tigers (1-7) will conclude their season with a 7 p.m. home game against Fort Pierce John Carroll at 7 p.m. next Friday.