With Bulloch Academy leading by one midway through the second quarter, Trinity Christian quarterback David Coleman dropped back to pass.
As he did, a flag went up from one of the officials and as the play continued, Coleman found Jake Walker open on the sideline for a 67-yard touchdown pass. Initially it appeared the call was going to negate the touchdown, but after huddling, the officials picked up the flag and awarded the Crusaders the go-ahead touchdown.
Trinity Christian (6-3) wouldn’t look back as they added two more scores in the fourth quarter to knock off the Gators (5-4) 32-13 on senior night at Gator Alley.
“We thought it was an illegal formation,” said BA Head Coach Terence Hennessy. “The officials didn’t see it that way. We thought they had it right the first time, but you can’t leave the game in the hands of the officials.”
The loss means the Gators need a win next week against Pinewood on the road in their season finale in order to secure a playoff spot.
Bulloch Academy dug themselves in an early hole, giving up two quick scores early in the first quarter.
The first Trinity score came when Trinity’s Will Clardy blocked a Gators’ punt and Gideon Meadows recovered it, running 10 yards for the touchdown. The Gators were able to block the PAT to keep the score at 6-0.
On the Gators’ next offensive play, Ty Mingle was stripped and Trinity recovered and returned the ball to the Bulloch Academy 10. Three plays later, quarterback David Coleman found Clardy for a 9-yard touchdown pass. Again, the Gator defense held on the two-point conversion attempt as the Crusaders jumped out to a 12-0 lead.
The Gators responded on their next possession, keyed by a 23-yard reception by Ty Mingle and a 26-yard run by quarterback Don Aaron. On the eighth play of the drive, Brandon Merrill was able to plunge in from one yard out to cut the lead to 12-7.
After forcing a Crusader punt, the Gators drove 60 yards on 11 plays. After being stopped on third and one, the Gators decided to go for it on fourth down. Jake Nelson was just able to stretch across the goal line for the touchdown. A Seth Bryant extra point made the score 13-12.
Trinity wasted little time responding with a 67-yard touchdown pass from Coleman to Walker Payne down the sideline. Payne was able to outrun the defense to give the Crusaders an 18-13 lead after the two-point conversion failed.
“I thought that play gave them the momentum,” Hennessy said. “We just got beat on a deep ball,” he said.
“Our kids played hard, we just have to execute better,” Hennessey said.
Bulloch Academy struggled to move the ball in the second half, picking up only two first downs as the running game struggled to move the ball while the passing game only connected on two of five passes.
“They’re a good football team,” Hennessy said of the Crusaders.
Hennessy said the Gators need to move past this game as they prepare for next week.
“We need to keep plugging along and have a good week of practice,” he said.