Why fate decides to smile or frown is a mystery, but on Saturday Euless Trinity earned her favor in a nail biter that was worth every cent of admission at AT&T Stadium.
The Trojans fought back from 13 down late in the third quarter with two timely defensive stops, two Courage Keihn touchdowns — the last with 1:42 left — and a just-missed 51-yard field goal as Trinity prevailed 28-27 Class 6A Division I area-round game against Duncanville.
Trinity (10-2), a three-time state champion, is on to the regional round after upending the state’s sixth-ranked team, one unbeaten in 11 previous games.
The Trojans will face Midland Lee (10-2) next. The Rebels won a home game Saturday against Arlington Lamar, 42-38.
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“We knew if we came out here and played our game, do what we do best, I didn’t think they would keep up with us,” Keihn said. “I think it’ll be hard for anybody to keep up with what we do.”
What the Trojans do is get physical on the offensive front and pound their stable of running backs into the line time and time again.
Keihn was Trinity’s featured play-maker on Saturday, carrying 31 times for 136 yards, the two touchdowns, and a key 48-yard gain off a screen pass from quarterback Laki Ellis on the Trojans’ game-winning drive, which started at their own 13.
Keihn also had 23 yards on the ground on six carries on that 10-play drive, capped by a 2-yard scoring run.
Running back Simeon Ellsworth contributed 17 yards on the drive, and Jaylin Buffin, who had a TD plunge earlier, rushed for 11 yards.
Fullback Toby Harrah also had a TD for the Trojans.
Duncanville, led by Grambling pledge Keilon Elder’s 171 yards rushing, scored on five consecutive possessions before Trinity finally forced a pair of punts by the Panthers, the second setting up the triumphant drive with 5:49 remaining in the game.
“It was nothing different,” Trinity coach Chris Jensen said of facing the deficit. “We’ve been down before. It’s still reachable. We just have to take care of the ball and move down and score. Eventually at some point, maybe we’ll get a stop on defense, and that’s what happened.”
Down one with 1:42 left, the Panthers drove to the Trojans’ 34 with one second left.
Josh Delgado, who kicked a 44-yarder with plenty of distance earlier in the game, just missed a 51-yard boot short and a bit left.
“At that moment, you just let the kids go,” Jensen said of watching the Panthers lineup for the potential game-winner. “There’s nothing you can do about it. Hope you get the break, and we got the break – bless the kid’s heart.”
Being in so many close games this season was likely to Trinity’s advantage. The Trojans won four games this season by seven points or less. No one played Duncanville closer than 10 points all season, and that was a 24-14 defeat of DeSoto last month that snapped a 23-game win streak.
“We knew we had it, keep doing what we do,” Keihn said. “We don’t look at the score board. We know if we just keep pounding the rock, stuff is going to turn out good.”