COPPERAS COVE — The No. 6-ranked Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals wrapped up one of the most memorable season in school history with a 72-23 thumping of the Mesa Community College Thunderbirds in the C.H.A.M.P.S Heart of Texas Bowl at Copperas Cove's Bulldawg Stadium on Saturday.
With the win, head coach Brad Smiley pick up his first 10-win season in his coaching career at 10-2 after a 3-6 season one year ago.
The Cardinals won their first bowl game since the 2005 Pilgrim's Pride Bowl in a 24-14 win over Northeast Mississippi. Trinity Valley earned their first 10-win season since 2002 and their sixth in the program’s 67-year history.
TVCC freshman running back Luis Lopez was named the MVP following a 12 carry, 164-yard night with three touchdowns. He scored from 39, 2 and 80 yards in the game.
Cardinals running back Tavarreon Dickerson set a Heart of Texas record for the longest rush from scrimmage with an 88-yard scamper in the first half.
The Cardinals defense held Mesa to 32-yards rushing on 30 carries. TVCC outgained Mesa, 613-to-225 yards in the win.
For more on the Heart of Texas Bowl, check out Tuesday's print edition of the Athens Daily Review.
The Cardinals’ 72 points is the most scored in a bowl game by an active NJCAA member college. Dixie State – now an NCAA DII program – scored 76 points against Lackawanna in the 1997 Dixie Rotary Bowl.
Cardinals freshman running back Luis Lopez was named the game’s MVP after rushing for 164 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries. Trinity Valley sophomore quarterback Ryan Polite completed 14-of-22 pass attempts for 200 yards and three touchdowns. Despite the absence of star quarterback Blake Kemp, Mesa still saw sophomore wide receiver Cody Saul pull down six receptions for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
Trinity Valley’s offense was unstoppable, while the Thunderbirds’ attack floundered. The Cardinals posted 613 yards of offense compared to to just 225 for Mesa. The Thunderbirds also played their own worst enemy, turning the ball over six times with two fumbles and four interceptions.
Trinity Valley got the scoring started on their first play from scrimmage when Polite connected with sophomore wide receiver Momon for a 43-yard touchdown pass. Following a Mesa field goal, the Cardinals took a 14-3 lead on a 23-yard fumble return for a touchdown by sophomore linebacker Tray Thornton. That score sparked a 28-0 run for Trinity Valley who went into halftime with a 42-16 lead.
The Cardinals got on the board early again in the second half with a 77-yard touchdown pass from Polite to freshman wide receiver Darius Floyd. Polite followed up the next drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to put Trinity Valley up 56-16. Just over a minute later, Cardinals defensive lineman Ke’Andre Love put the game with a 19-yard interception return for a touchdown.
The Cardinals capped off the year with a 10-2 record, winning their first bowl game since 2005. Trinity Valley earned their first 10-win season since 2002 and their sixth in the program’s 67-year history. The Thunderbirds’ defeat dropped their record to 8-3 for the season. - See more at: http://www.njcaa.org/newsArticle.cfm?articleId=20549#sthash.9r6wDH5U.dpuf