The Athens Review
COPPERAS COVE —
On a bitter cold day at Bulldawg Stadium, the No. 5-ranked Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals capped off a memorable year with a 72-23 thumping of the Mesa Community College Thunderbirds Saturday.
“I am just proud of these guys and honestly this is an exclamation point on a great year,” Trinity Valley seventh-year head coach Brad Smiley said. “It is a spring board for the freshmen and a great send off for the sophomores. It is great and I don’t know what else to say it is just great.”
With high’s in the upper 20’s and a solid sheet of ice on the field, the Cardinals (10-2) gave Smiley his first 10-win season of his career.
TVCC is now 10-9 in bowl games, having won eight of the last nine bowl appearances.
Saturday’s 72 points marked the second time this season TVCC has hit that number after a 72-7 win against the Red Ravens of Coffeyville Community College.
TVCC also set a Heart of Texas Bowl record for the longest play from scrimmage as freshman Tavarreon Dickerson blasted his way for an 88-yard run to give TVCC a 35-3 lead in the second quarter.
The Cardinals finished last season with a 3-6 record after a 2011 season when they played in the Citizens Bank Bowl against Butler Community College. Butler beat TVCC, 21-17, in TVCC’s last bowl appearance.
TVCC pulled off the championship trifecta with the regular season, conference and bowl titles after being picked to finish fourth in the conference.
“Last year was such a tough season because we felt like we should have had another great year coming off 2010 and 2011,” Smiley said. “The guys came out and worked and I could not be more proud of them and the coaching staff. “
Freshman running back Luis Lopez was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player as he rushed for 164 yards on 12 carries and three touchdowns.
Lopez had scores of 39, 2 and 80-yards — with the 80-yard run coming straight through the heart of the Thunderbirds defense with 4:34 remaining in the game.
“It actually means a lot to me. It was hard to run the ball today with it being so cold and our lineman were able to give us some good blocks,” Lopez said. “Garrett Gunter did a great job for me and Joel Valladeres will be leaving us but he did great for us.”
Trent Momon recorded the first points of the bowl game on TVCC’s first possession of the game.
Following a three and out by Mesa, sophomore quarterback Ryan Polite connected with Momon on a 43-yard touchdown reception with 13:21 remaining.
The Cardinals defense — who had allowed less than 20 points per game this season — had two defensive touchdowns with a 22-yard fumble recovery by Tray Thornton and an 18-yard interception return by Ke’Andre Love in the third quarter.
The defense gave up only 32-yards rushing to Mesa on 30 carries and held them to 230 yards of offense. Mesa averaged 493 yards of offense this season.
“Our defense had a chip on their shoulder and they knew that they could step up today and they shut people down,” Smiley said. “They throw the ball a lot and this one played into our hands.”
TVCC finished the game with 28 first downs and 613 yards of offense against Mesa, as Polite threw for 200 yards and three touchdowns on 14-of-22 passing. He also ran for a touchdown to cap off a six-play, 50-yard drive in the third quarter.
Dickerson finished with seven carries for 126 yards and one touchdown.
Smiley said winning their final nine games should make an impact in the polls next season.
“It is huge and we have not had a team in the conference — which is the toughest conference in the nation — hit 10 wins since 2010,” Smiley said. “To me, this is one of the things that can put you up top nationally with an opportunity to finish in the top five in the country now.”
No. 6-TVCC 72, No. 12 Mesa 23
MESA 3 13 0 7 — 23
TVCC 21 21 23 7 — 72
T — Trent Momon 43 from Ryan Polite (Dylan McLain kick) 13:21
M — Brian Franklin 33 FG 10:03
T — Tray Thornton 22 fumble recovery (McLain kick) 6:43
T — Luis Lopez 39 run (McLain kick) 5:24
T — Lopez 2 run (McLain kick) 14:54
T — Tavarreon Dickerson 88 run (McLain kick) 13:24
M — Cody Saul 16 from Torrance Carr (Franklin kick) 11:01
M — Franklin 22 FG 8:36
M — Franklin 34 FG 5:03
T — Jarvis Baxter 12 from Polite (McLain kick) 1:09
T — Darius Floyd 61 from Polite (McLain kick) 14:04
T — Polite 1 run (McLain kick) 10:59
T — Ke’Andre Love 18 INT return (kick failed) 9:56
T —McLain 28 FG 4:47
M — Saul 7 from Bradley Schencker (Franklin kick) 8:57
T — Lopez 80 run (McLain kick) 4:34
First downs 12 28
Rush-yards 30-32 46-377
Passing yards 193 236
C-A-I 16-44-3 23-35-1
Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-2
Punts-avg. 8-31.6 3-24.7
Penalties-yards 10-82 7-74
Rushing — M: Michael Allen 13-35, Cedric Simmons 6-22, Torrance Carr 6-14, Kashwell Robinson 1-1. TVCC: Luis Lopez 12-164-3, Tavarreon Dickerson 7-126-1, Ryan Polite 8-36-1, Marquel McNac 8-31.
Passing — M: Bradley Schnecker 13-33-2-1-150, Carr 3-9-1-1-43. TVCC: Ryan Polite 14-22-3-1-200, Hunter McCoy 9-13-36.
Receiving — M: Cody Saul 6-107-2, Carr 5-81, Traveon Presley-Freeman 2-1, Ethan Cortazzo 1-4. T: Trent Momon 5-59-1, Franky Okafor 4-18, Darius Floyd 2-68-1, Nate Pickett 2-21.