The Trinity Bible College Lions football team had a very busy week as they played and defeated Cole College 41 to 24 on Monday, September 3rd and followed it up with a game only five days later. They welcomed Maranatha Baptist Bible College Crusaders to Ellendale, ND and Bob Tatum Field. The Lions were 4-1 at home last season and they were looking to move to 2-0 at home and to 2-1 on the season.
The Lions would not have to wait long to take their first lead as junior Barry Bighorn (Culbertson, MT) would catch the opening kick-off on the 6 yard line and return the kick 94 yards for a touchdown. The extra point attempt would be blocked giving the Lions the early 6-0 lead. The Lions would then use a 7 play 56 yard drive to set up a 32 yard field goal by Christian Troxler (West Memphis, AR) giving the Lions a 9 to 0 lead with 8:18 left in the first quarter. After the first quarter the Lions held a 9 to 0 lead.
The Lions would use the momentum they created in the first quarter to build a bigger lead, linebacker Diego Ramirez (Dokl, FL) would sack the Crusaders quarterback and force a fumble and senior Marcus Bartels (Belden, NE) would recover it for the Lions. The Lions were unable to capitalize on the turnover however. In his first start for the Lions this season junior quarterback Justin Smith (Ridgecrest, CA) would throw his first touchdown as a starter connecting with freshman Cooper Spurgin (Red Oak, TX) on a 75 yard strike. Justin Smith would then find Cooper Spurgin for the two point conversion try giving the Lions a 17 to 0 lead over the Crusaders. The Lions would then score with just over a minute left in the first half on a 9 yard touchdown pass from Justin Smith to Victor Smith (Rialto, CA) giving the Lions the 24 to 0 lead heading into halftime.
The second half for the most part was a different story, the momentum the Lions had built in the first half seemed to go away as Maranatha would be the first and only team to score in the third quarter on an 18 yard touchdown run by the quarterback Bran McCormick with only 9 seconds left in the quarter cutting the Lions lead to 24 to 6. The start of the fourth saw both teams trading field position and punts until the Lions defense would yet again sack the quarterback and cause another fumble. This time it was senior Marcus Bartels who got the sack and forced fumble and junior Jose Casanova (Weslaco, TX) recovering the loose ball on Maranatha’s 33 yard line, but the Crusader’s defense would hold the Lions out of the redzone and force a punt. It was the Crusaders who would score first in the fourth quarter on a 53 yard touchdown pass from McCormick to Joel Kobosh making the score 24 to 14 with just over 3 minutes left in the game . The Crusaders would score again this time on a 25 yard touchdown pass from McCormick to Matt Morrison cutting the Lions lead to just 4 points 24 to 20 with 1:34 seconds left. However the Lions would put the game on ice as Justin Smith would find Barry Bighorn on a 50 yard touchdown pass sealing the victory for the Lions 31 to 20.
In the win Lions quarterback Justin Smith threw for 321 yards on 19 of 31 passing with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Barry Bighorn pulled in 5 catches for 129 yards receiving and 1 touchdown to go with his one kick return for 94 yard and touchdown, giving Barry 223 all-purpose yards and 2 touchdowns. Defensively the Lions were led by junior Seth Peterson (Dazey, ND) who had 13 total tackles including one tackle for loss. Freshman Diego Ramirez added 12 total tackles including 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss and 1 forced fumble and junior Jose Casanova also had double digit tackles with 11 total tackles with 1 tackle for loss and 1 fumble recovery. Jerel Richardson, Josh Conner (Nebraska City, NE) and Jason Elliott (Thedford, NE) all had on interception for the Lions defense.
The Crusaders had more total plays and yards than the Lions with 100 plays for 324 yards of offense compared to the Lions 59 plays for 309 yards of offense. Maranatha also control the time of possession having the ball for 35:32 and the Lions had it for only 24:28. The Lions defense forced 5 Crusaders turnovers, 3 interceptions and 2 fumbles while the Lions offense turned the ball over 4 times with 3 fumbles and 1 interception.
The win is the Lions second win this week and second in a row after losing the season opener. The Lions are now 2-0 at home and 2-1 overall for the season. They will be hosting Mayville State University Comets Saturday, September 15th at Bob Tatum Field with kick off at 2pm.