Sophomore Backs Combine For Nearly 300 Yards In 36-15 Road Win Over Lincoln Prep
The Trenton Bulldogs got back on track Saturday afternoon with a big performance on the road against Lincoln Prep Academy. Trenton rushed for over 300 yards in a 36-15 victory at Ruskin High School in Kansas City.
For the Bulldogs, the win was almost a must as Trenton entered the game on a two-game losing streak.
“I thought we played really well, especially in the second and third quarters,” Trenton Head Coach Wes Croy said. “That’s a little bit different than we have been in the past because it seems like we have always kind of stubbed our toe coming out in the second half. I thought we came out really well and fixed some things in the locker room at halftime. We were able to make some adjustments and come out and make them work on the field.”
Trenton got off to a slow start, fumbling the ball away on what appeared to be a promising drive. Lincoln Prep took full advantage of the turnover, driving down the field with the aid of a long run to score the game’s first touchdown.
“It was early in the game and we had to bounce back,” Croy said. “Coming off two losses and having not had a lot of success in those two games and then fumbling on your first drive and giving up a score was not an ideal situation for us. We were able to get the running game going, though, and once we got that established, we were able to do two or three different things against them. Really, it was typical of Trenton football. We ran the ball well and we ran the ball a lot.”
And run the ball Trenton did.
The Bulldogs answered Lincoln Prep’s game-opening score with four of their own, all on the ground and all on the legs of sophomore running back Colton Neff. Neff capped good drives by the Bulldogs with touchdown runs of six, one and eight yards in the second quarter and then another one-yard touchdown run in the third. Neff also carried in a two-point conversion following his third score after the point-after kick sailed wide left after his second score.
Leading 28-7, Trenton yielded its second touchdown in the latter stages of the third quarter. Lincoln Prep converted a two-point conversion to cut the lead to 28-15, but Trenton again answered. The Bulldogs put together an eight-play drive capped by Travis Leeper’s first touchdown of the game, coming on a six-yard run, to go up 34-15. Neff’s second two-point conversion run of the day gave the game it’s final score of 36-15.
“Colton had his best game of the season by far,” Croy said. “He is young and he’s learning every week as is Travis Leeper. We have those two sophomores back there and they make mistakes and they haven’t played a perfect game yet, but you can see them getting better and better and getting more confident every week. We have a junior quarterback (Dalton Ellis) with them, so that is a pretty inexperienced backfield, but they are improving and as long as they keep doing that they all have a really bright future and we are excited about that.”
Neff had a monster game, rushing for 196 yards and four touchdowns on a season-high 31 carries. Leeper added his third 100-yard game of the season, rushing for 103 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
Ellis was a model of efficiency at quarterback, completing all four passes he threw, hitting three different receivers for 50 passing yards. He also rushed for 20 yards, rounding out Trenton’s team rushing total of 319. Trenton’s offensive line paved the way for Trenton’s big rushing day and, despite being outsized up front on both sides of the ball, controlled the trenches throughout the contest.
“When we play with a good pad level, our athleticism takes over,” Croy said. “We have kids like Wilson Utley and Brice Dillon who are both very good athletes and good basketball players and they have good feet. When they play at a good pad level size becomes not as big of an issue because their athletic ability takes over. Terrin Ellis has good size on one side and Josh Davis is a strong kid on the other and then we have Nick Gass in the middle. I think the key for our guys up front – and you can include Cree Mullenix and Chris Kurtz here too because our tight ends block so much – is not always out-muscling people, but out-positioning them. When we get good position and play low at the legs and the thighs, we have a much greater opportunity to be successful and I thought that was what we did more often than not today.”
With the win, Trenton improved to 4-2 overall on the season. Trenton still sits in fourth place in the Class 2, District 16 standings, but reeled in the leaders a bit. The Bulldogs are under one single point behind Lathrop and Lawson, second and third in the standings respectively, and just over one and a half points behind district leader LeBlond.
The Bulldogs enter the final third of the season this Friday, facing Illini West at C.F. Russell Stadium in Trenton. The Bulldogs will round out the regular season traveling to Kirksville the following week before hosting Concordia in the finale.
“It was almost a must situation that we don’t go 0-3 in that middle third of the season,” Croy said. “Our back was really against the wall today and it was nice to come out with a win. Going 1-2 was not what we wanted for that middle third, but at least the win gives us kind of a springboard going into the final third. They will be three tough games. Illini West is a good football team, Kirksville is an improved team and a big school and Concordia is putting up all kinds of points on the board. But at this point we want them to all be good. If you win those games, it helps you district point-wise because the better the record of the teams you are playing, the more points you get in the district formula. Right now we are sitting fourth and not very far out of second or third. We just need to keep winning and doing what we can do to control our own fate and if we do that we have a great shot at being home in week 10.”
Trenton and Illini West will kick off at 6 p.m. on Friday, an hour early due to Illini West’s lengthy trip.
LP – Corlandus Rucker 2-yard run (kick good).
T – Colton Neff 6-yard run (Jonathan Lamp kick).
T – Neff 1-yard run (kick failed).
T – Neff 8-yard run (Neff run).
T – Neff 1-yard run (Lamp kick).
LP – Rucker 55-yard run. (Duane Clayton run).
T – Travis Leeper 6-yard run (Neff run).
THS LPHS First Downs 18 8
Rushes-Yards 51-319 39-229
Passing Yards 50 18
Comp.-Att.-Int. 4-4-0 1-6-1
Total Yards 369 247
Penalties-Yards 3-25 5-50
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 1-1
Punts-Avg. 2-33.5 3-31.3
RUSHING – Trenton, Colton Neff, 31-196; Travis Leeper, 14-103; Dalton Ellis, 7-20. Lincoln Prep, Corlandus Rucker, 13-108; Seth Fisher, 9-61; Jabrari Hobson, 9-23; Justin Dixson, 3-15; Duane Clayton, 1-14; Darnell Pope, 2-8; team 2-0.
PASSING – Trenton, Ellis, 4-4-0, 50 yards. Lincoln Prep, Fisher, 1-1-0, 18 yards; Pope, 0-5-1.
RECEIVING – Trenton, Chris Kurtz, 2-30; Owen, 1-20; Aaron Anderson, 1-0. Lincoln Prep, Clayton, 1-18.
INTERCEPTIONS – Trenton, Trey Shields, 1-6. Lincoln Prep, none.
PUNTING – Trenton, Ellis, 2-67, 33.5 avg. Lincoln Prep, Dixson, 3-94, 31.3 avg.
PUNT RETURNS – Trenton, Leeper, 1-17.
KICKOFF RETURNS – Trenton, Leeper, 1-17.
DEFENSE – Trenton, Garrett Runnels, 10 tackles; Charlie Hoffman, 9 tackles; Trey Shields, 8 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception; Aaron Anderson, 6 tackles; Dakota Schultz, 5 tackles; Cree Mullenix, 4 tackles; Gavin Griffin, 4 tackles; Troy Hanes, 4 tackles; Owen, 4 tackles; Kurtz, 3 tackles; Josh Davis, 3 tackles; Travis Gilbertson, 2 tackles.