JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Trinity Christian rolled up the state titles and established itself as a powerhouse across the state and even the country, with recruits getting calls from colleges from across the nation.
But even with state crowns the past two seasons, there always was one consistent blemish for the Conquerors — rival private school Bolles.
That hold was eased Friday night when Darnell Rogers twice glided into the end zone. After being bottled up most of the contest, Rogers broke free for a pair of long scoring runs in the second half — from 54 yards to break a freshly tied game and later a 75-yarder, which put a nice finishing touch on host Trinity’s 27-14 victory over the Bulldogs in the News4JAX Game of the Week.
The victory broke a two-game slide for the Conquerors against the Bulldogs, who had won the past two meetings by a combined 71-12 score, both courtesy of Bolles coach Matt Toblin.
So while Trinity, the No. 1 team in the Super 10, was claiming the state titles the past couple of seasons, the Conquerors (4-0) could not get past the Bulldogs (2-2). Trinity coach Verlon Dorminey did not downplay what the victory means to his team.
“We won those games when we were both 5A and in the district and in the playoffs,” said Dorminey, whose teams now are 5-7 all-time against Bolles. “But then Matt gets there, and we don’t play for a year, and then he wins two in a row, it’s like, ‘Whoa, we’re not doing something right here.’
“But tonight was good. It was fun. I think we played about as good as we can play tonight.”
Dorminey said if his team got a little too satisfied with the victory, he would bring them back down to earth on Monday, especially with Columbia looming next week.
Rogers said that wouldn’t be an issue.
“I can’t let us lose for the third time in a row,” said Rogers, a junior who finished with 134 yards on six carries. “It means we’ve been doing something right, working hard over the summer, working hard at practice.
“We’re going to be back at it [Saturday]. We’re not going to let this win boost our heads up for the season because we know we’ve got plenty more games to win.”
Toblin’s team likely has more games to win as well. But the Bulldogs, fifth in the Super 10, were without starting quarterback D.J. Moore, who was held out after, Toblin said, he was banged up against Brunswick last week.
But Toblin said he did not alter the game plan with sophomore Ethan Drumm, and Toblin felt Drumm played well, going 10 for 21 for 121 passing yards and an interception that came under duress.
Still, it was tough sledding to start for the Bulldogs, who trailed 14-0 at the half, with Conquerors quarterback Colin Hurley connecting with Miles Burris on a 54-yard scoring strike early in the second quarter — Burris caught all but one of Hurley’s 10 completions for 150 yards — and then a 4-yard scoring run by Treyaun Webb following Cameron Anderson’s interception.
But Bolles sustained two long drives to start the second half, with Emmett Grzebin’s 45-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1 tying the game and seemingly changing the course of the contest with 1:24 left in the third quarter.
That lasted all of 20 seconds as, on the next offensive play, Rogers broke off a 54-yard touchdown run to give the Conquerors the lead for good.
“They do a great job blocking up front, and those backs are explosive when they get the ball in space,” Toblin said. “That’s part of what happens when you play really good football teams. Hopefully, we learned something about ourselves and get better next week.”
Both Rogers and Dorminey thought the running game, though well-contained by the Bulldogs defense in the first half, landed enough body blows to start loosening up Bolles. Rogers entered the game averaging a shade under 100 yards and had totaled five rushing yards before his two big runs. Webb was averaging 105 a game, but was held to 48 yards.
Still, they were tough runs, quality carries.
“Webb had some really physical runs during the ballgame,” Dorminey said. “He was just pounding and pounding. I think that helped Darnell get loose those times. But they are a great pair of backs.”
The game had an awkward start. The expected big plays happened, but they came courtesy of the defense — or from offensive players playing defense. Trinity’s first two drives started in Bulldogs territory, but Bolles forced and recovered fumbles on back-to-back plays, ending any scoring hopes.
The Bulldogs’ best early chance came from its defense. Jacob Campen stepped in front of a Hurley pass at the Conquerors 22 and seemed poised for a pick-six. But on the way to the end zone, intended receiver Kyle Boylston grabbed Campen’s shirt and punched the ball into the end zone. Boylston fell on it for a Trinity touchback.
“I already made a mistake by missing a block, so I had to make up for that,” Boylston said. “I couldn’t let them get on the board first, so I punched it out.”
Bolles went three-and-out on three of its first four possessions. Following the big play from Hurley to Burris, the Bulldogs seemed ready to counter, pushing deep into Conquerors territory. But Bryce Kazmierczak tackled a ball carrier for a loss and then teamed with Dorean Lang-Cleveland to sack Drumm, leading to a missed 32-yard field goal.
In the end, those plays added up and helped the Conquerors celebrate finally getting over the Bolles hurdle. Even multi-sport athlete Boylston, who has been at St. Johns Country Day and Sandalwood in the past, knew that was a big block to get past.
“This is my first year here, and it was a big game for the team, and I’ve never lost to Bolles in any sport,” Boylston said. “I’m glad everybody’s happy.”
Trinity Christian 27, Bolles 14
Bolles, 0, 0, 14, 0 —14
Trinity Christian, 0, 14, 7, 6 — 27
TC – Miles Burris 54 pass from Colin Hurley (Seth Bialek kick)
TC – Treyaun Webb 4 run (Bialek kick)
B – Tyrone Neal 1 run (Matthew Berry kick)
B – Emmett Grzebin 45 run (Berry kick)
TC – Darnell Rogers 54 run (Bialek kick)
TC – Rogers 75 run (kick blocked)
Category: B — TC
First downs: 13 — 12
Rushes-yards: 39-136 — 27-195
Passing: 121 — 155
Comp-Att-Int: 10-21-1 — 10-21-1
Fumbles-lost: 2-1 — 2-2
Penalties-Yards: 5-55 — 12-87
RUSHING — B: Grzebin 24-115; Neal 11-44; Ethan Drumm 4-(-23). TC: Rogers 6-134, Webb 18-48, London Smith 1-9, Hurley 2-4.
PASSING — B: Drumm 10-21-1-121. TC: Hurley 10-20-1-155; Webb 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — B: Kaleb Lampkins 3-54; Chase Collier 3-27; Naeem Burroughs 1-17; Connor Cox 1-9; Neal 1-8; Grzebin 1-6. TC: Burris 9-150, Bialek 1-5.