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Turnovers prove costly to Trinity

Posted Saturday, October 16, 2010 by Ed Dalton

Turnovers prove costly to Trinity

10/16/2010 3:30 AM

 JEFFERSON HILLS - To finally compete with Thomas Jefferson for four full quarters, Trinity needed a few things to decidedly go its way.

The Hillers had to eliminate the big play.

They needed to avoid the big mistake.

Finally, Trinity couldn't show a weakness because, once Thomas Jefferson spots one, the Jaguars attack it relentlessly.

Well, in Friday night's Class AAA Big Eight Conference game at Thomas Jefferson, Trinity failed to accomplish those decisive pregame objectives and was handed a 30-6 loss.

"They have one loss in 11 years in league play," Trinity head coach Ed Dalton said. "That's incredible. Does anyone understand how incredible that is? I don't think you do."

Understanding how Thomas Jefferson (5-0, 6-1) beat Trinity (3-2, 4-3) doesn't require looking back over a decade worth of work, though the win had a vintage feel for the home team.

Trinity committed three turnovers, allowed a few big plays and, in the second half, watched in vain as Thomas Jefferson pitched left on nearly every offensive play.

"Our guys just keep getting better and better. They're really starting to gel," Jaguars coach Bill Cherpak said. "Our defense gave us so many opportunities."

Trinity typically gives up the big play to Thomas Jefferson and it didn't take the Jaguars long to break one.

On the Jaguars' second offensive play, senior quarterback Dom Crouse completed a quick sideline pattern to Zach Schademan, who turned it into a 67-yard pass play thanks to some shoddy tackling.

"It's a three-yard curl," Dalton said. "And they turn it into a big play."

Trinity's defense, resilient despite being handed difficult situations by the offense, held Thomas Jefferson to a 22-yard field goal on the drive but wouldn't be so fortunate in the second quarter.

"Our defense played well," Dalton added. "But we kept giving them short fields. It's just incredible to me that happens game after game."

Shortly after a Mike Cleveland interception at the Hillers' goal line thwarted a potential scoring drive for Thomas Jefferson, Trinity endured one of its worst offensive sequences in some time.

Trinity fumbled on consecutive offensive plays, the first came on a Nick Raimondi sack of quarterback Brad Martin, who spent most pass plays getting dumped to the turf despite passing for 139 yards and a 24-yard touchdown to Eric Richards.

Thomas Jefferson scored three plays later on Ryan Ruffing's six-yard run for a 10-0.

The Hillers' fumbled on a third consecutive second-quarter possession when Martin rollout out on a play-action play and dropped the football. The Jaguars recovered inside the Hillers' 25 and Ruffing, who rushed for 100 yards on 22 carries, scored his second touchdown for a 17-0 lead.

Thomas Jefferson's relentless pressure produced eight quarterback sacks, while the Jaguars' left side of the offensive line wore down Trinity's defense in the second half as T.J. Matrascia added 90 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Defensive pressure, power running and intelligent play - all hallmarks of an unbelievable decade of success for Thomas Jefferson, which won PIAA titles in 2004, 2007 and 2008.

"These guys get better every game," Cherpak said. "It reminds me of the 2004 team. We weren't ranked high going into that year but we kept getting better and better." Copyright Observer Publishing Co.

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