San Antonio - The 14th-ranked Trinity Tigers held off a late rally to defeat the Birmingham-Southern Panthers 24-16 in a Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference game on Saturday afternoon.
Trinity upped its overall record to 8-0, for the first time since the 2005 season, and improved the SCAC mark to 4-0. Birmingham-Southern now stands at 5-2 and 2-2 SCAC. The Tigers lead the series 5-0, winning last year's game 38-28 at Birmingham, Ala.
"We showed some tenacity with the offense and the defense," said Tiger head coach Steve Mohr, who missed last week's game at LaGrange (Ga.) because of illness. "The kids never gave up, and we came out of here with a tough win."
Trinity scored 10 points in the opening period, starting off with a 34-yard field goal by Garrett Biel. Then, Patrick Granchelli scored his first of two touchdowns in the game, on a 10-yard TD run.
Birmingham-Southern countered with a field goal early in the second quarter, but Granchelli pushed the Tiger lead back to 14 points with a 16-yard run late in the first half.
The Panthers managed another score with less than a minute left before halftime, converting on fourth-and-goal from the one yard line.
Late in the third quarter, quarterback Nyk McKissic fired a 39-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Osei-Kuffour to put Trinity up 24-10. Birmingham got another TD with under five minutes left in the game, but the extra point was missed.
BSC got one more shot, beginning with 2:26 on the clock. The Panthers advanced the ball from their to their own 38, when Stainback was sacked by Phillip Hiner-Leamon and Nick Darling, for a loss of three yards to the BSC 35. Following a Panthers timeout, Darling intercepted a pass at the BSC 49 to seal the win.
It was the second straight game that Trinity's defense has come up with a turnover, and keep the opposition from scoring with less than two minutes to play in the game.
Trinity produced 348 yards of total offense, with 182 in the air, and 166 on the ground. Granchelli led the team in rushing with 124 yards on 20 carries, and snagged two passes for 35 yards.
"We were firing on all pistons," Granchelli said. "I think we came together and acted as a unit. They did a really food job of reading us, but we basically just outplayed them."
McKissic completed 13-21 for 182 yards and a touchdown. Osei-Kuffour had three receptions for 63 yards. Kyle Trella punted five times for 228 yards (45.6 average), with a long punt of 54 yards. Trella's average is the fifth-best in school history (minimum five punts) for a single game.
Antonio Debouse led the Tigers in tackles, with 11 (one solo). and Darling added 10 (one solo). Darling, Hiner-Leamon, and Bradley Drenon combined for the three sacks against BSC. Drenon recorded eight tackles, as did Tyler Barrett.
BSC fumbled four times and lost the ball once, and Trinity also lost one fumble.
The Tigers conclude their regular-season home schedule next Saturday by hosting the Centre Colonels at 1:30 p.m. With Centre's win over Millsaps today, next weekend's winner will clinch the 2011 SCAC Championship, and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Playoffs.