Late gamble falls short for Holy Trinity in loss at MCC


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HolyTrinity's Kevin Chandler caught six passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns, including a 57-yard score late in the game that brought the Tigers to within one point of MCC. Holy Trinity would go for two and fail to convert as MCC held on for a 14-13 win.

VIERA VOICE Caroline Layman

Holy Trinity coach Nate Hooks Jr. likes wins more than ties -- even when it’s an exhibition football game on the road.

Melbourne Central Catholic’s defense stopped Larry Hill on a two-point conversion run with less than 30 seconds remaining as the Hustlers outlasted Holy Trinity 14-13 Friday night in a kickoff classic.

The Tigers put themselves in position to either win or force overtime when Kevin Chandler overpowered two MCC defenders on the right side to catch a pass and then outsprinted the Hustlers’ duo to score on a 57-yard strike from Ja’Lon Hudgins.

“(As a coach) I figured since it was just a kickoff classic that we should go for it,’’ said Hooks, whose Tigers will travel to Winter Park next Friday to face Trinity Prep in a 7 p.m. contest to open the regular season.

“I want us to get experience trying to win one. A loss in a kickoff classic is not on our record. They (MCC) adjusted to that play real quick.’’

Holy Trinity overloaded the left side of the field as Hudgins took the snap from center on the right side and handed the ball off to Hill. Hudgins, Hill and the Holy Trinity center were the lone three Tigers on the right side of the field.

“That play didn’t work and tonight I’ll question myself about 100 other plays that could have worked,’’ Hooks said.

Chandler caught six passes for two touchdowns and 114 yards.

“We fought back,’’ Hooks said. “That’s just an athlete making a play. It was a go route, and it was a real good athlete fighting to make a play against double coverage.’’

Melbourne Central Catholic rallied in the fourth quarter to score both of its touchdowns on consecutive possessions after Holy Trinity had taken a 7-0 advantage.

Tre Blake scored on a 15-yard run down the right sideline early in the fourth quarter. Cade LaMontagne kicked the extra point to tie the game at 7.

Under heavy pressure on first down, DeAndre Blake lobbed a pass to the right to Mekhi Love for a 22-yard gain to the Holy Trinity 22-yard line. That set up Tre Blake’s scoring run.

On the ensuing possession, Tre Blake intercepted a pass by Hudgins at the MCC 45 and returned it 36 yards to the Holy Trinity 19.

DeAndre Blake ran up the middle for 15 yards on first down. Three plays later, Tre Blake ran 7 yards for a touchdown to give the Hustlers the lead for the first time. LaMontagne kicked his second extra point of the night to make it 14-7.

DeAndre Blake finished with 131 yards on 22 carries. He also added two interceptions.

The time was kept on the field since MCC’s scoreboard malfunctioned in a test before the game.

Hudgins threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Chandler with approximately eight minutes to play in the third quarter. Brooks Taylor kicked the extra point.

Holy Trinity had taken possession at the 50 after a 9-yard punt by MCC.

Hudgins ran 12 yards for a first down to the MCC 30 and followed that with a 11-yard pass to Chandler over the middle. Hill then ran 11 yards to the right for a first down at the MCC 8.

Hill finished with 60 yards on 10 carries.

Hudgins completed 12 of 24 passes for 180 yards and three interceptions.

Cramps hampered Holy Trinity in the second half as several players fell to the ground with leg problems. That might have prompted Hooks to go for the win rather than play in an overtime shootout.

“I didn’t expect that (cramping),’’ Hooks said. “Next week, it’s for real. We lost 14-13 to a team that has around 60 players. We have 24.’’

Late in the first quarter, Holy Trinity moved from its own 21 to the MCC 4 in 11 plays. A penalty and two incomplete passes stalled the drive as MCC took over at its own 5 just five plays into the second quarter.