Trinity Christian roars back, wins Class 3A state title in a stunner

Season on the line and 26 yards to go.

Marcus Burke and Jacory Jordan had it covered.

Trinity Christian found paydirt — and its first football state championship since 2016.

The Conquerors, backs against the wall, stunned Hollywood Chaminade Madonna 25-22 in the Class 3A state championship game on a foggy night at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.

It took a major second half comeback, a near-perfect defensive performance with the season on the line and two home run balls from Jordan to Burke to deliver Trinity a title a long time in the making. The Conquerors went through two titleless seasons while playing in Class 5A and then absorbed a miserable 5-6, first-round playoff exit in their return to 3A in 2019.

This one was just perfect, with an ending that won’t be forgotten.

Jordan’s 26-yard touchdown pass to Burke on fourth-and-7 with 48 seconds to play was the clincher and gave Trinity its most dramatic of all championships for coach Verlon Dorminey. The defense sewed things up, with Johnathan Goddard Jr. sacking quarterback Jaylon Tolbert on fourth-and-13 from the Lions 42 to ice it.

Ballgame, Conquerors.

For Trinity (12-1), it was the eighth state championship in program history, all of them under Dorminey. The eight titles rank third in area history, trailing only Bolles (11) and University Christian (nine). UC lost earlier Wednesday to Hialeah Champagnant Catholic.

Down 16-0 at halftime and treading water on offense, the Conquerors chipped away after that against a physical Lions defensive front that had allowed all of 39 yards at the break.

Trinity Christian coach Verlon Dorminey celebrates after winning the Class 3A state title with a 25-22 win over Chaminade Madonna on Wednesday night. (News4Jax)

Trinity clawed back out of that hole and put a 10 spot on the board in the fourth quarter, with the play of the game coming with 6:56 left. Jordan found Burke, who signed with Florida earlier Wednesday, with the bomb, a 51-yard strike that put Trinity in front 17-16.

But the Lions roared back with a 78-yard drive, capped by a Thaddius Franklin 1-yard scoring run with 3:03 to go to put Chaminade up 22-17 and set the table for Trinity’s game-winning drive.

Burke finished with 144 yards and both touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Jordan was 9 of 18 for 161 yards.

That the Conquerors were even in position to win was a testament in resilience.

The Conquerors gave up a safety on their opening drive after a bad snap to punter Caleb Stevenson drifted back and out of the end zone. Chaminade burned nearly six minutes off the clock on its next drive, converting a long third down as well as a fourth-and-1 and later scoring on a Thaddius Franklin 2-yard touchdown.

Trinity mustered just 39 total yards in the opening half.

Things changed after that.

Kaleb Killian got the Conquerors on the board out of the wildcat, punching it in on a fourth-and-goal from the 2 early in the third quarter to get Trinity on the board. Trinity stalled on another fourth-and-goal from the 2 in the final quarter and had to settle for a 19-yard field goal by Stevenson to cut the deficit to 16-10.

Offensive issues hurt Trinity much of the opening half.

Jordan was picked off and also lost a fumble that Dylan Reid returned 45 yards for a touchdown and 16-0 Chaminade lead. But he settled down after the break and got into a rhythm.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.