We should have known better.
By halftime of Friday night's rivalry game between Southlake Carroll and Euless Trinity, the crowd at Pennington Field in Bedford looked dejected.
The Trojan fans, who outnumbered Carroll fans 3-to-1, stood in a thunderous roar as Trinity performed its traditional Sipi Tau before kickoff.
Now their butts were planted firmly on the metal bleachers. Trinity trailed 17-0 and was being dominated in every phase of the game.
Carroll's section, given the lead, had reason to be a little confident. The Dragons were moving the ball at will and were making scoring look way too easy.
But frankly, even they seemed disappointed that Trinity hadn't showed up.
1440 ticks of the clock later, the scoreboard read Trinity 21, Carroll 20.
Just another installment of the most competitive rivalry in DFW.
In the first half, the game resembled Carroll's 14-point win last season. In the second half, the game looked like the previous four meetings, which were decided by 10 points or less.
Trinity running back Courage Keihn, who accounted for 74 percent of the Trojans' total yardage, led his team down the warpath. Playing for the first time in weeks after injuring his ankle, Keihn rushed for a game-high 213 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns.
Carroll's T.J. McDaniel rushed for 157 yards and two TDs on 29 carries. Quarterback Will Bowers scrambled for 70 yards and passed for 98.
The Dragons gained 12 first downs in the first half, six more than Trinity.
Each team's first drive ended in a turnover, with Bowers throwing his first interception of the game and Trinity QB Estaban Larranaga fumbling the ball near midfield. 20 plays, no score.
Carroll's second drive saw McDaniel or Bowers rush on every snap. The junior running back weaved his way to the endzone untouched for the Dragons' first score. After another long, scoreless drive from Trinity, McDaniel and Bowers scored again to make it 14-0
Carroll would go up 17-0 just over a minute later.
Junior defensive back Patrick Traynor ripped the ball away from Trinity's Shamar Morton on the ensuing kickoff return, setting the Dragons up for a quick field goal. Other than Neal Koskay's kick and the steal by Traynor, nobody but McDaniel or Bowers touched the ball in the first half.
So, Trinity's defense began keying on them.
The Trojans slowed the pair down after the break, cutting their production by half.
Keihn scored on Trinity's first drive coming out of the locker room. Then things got interesting.
Morton, the defensive back who had the ball stolen in the first half, became the unsung hero of the game.
He used his helmet to knock the ball from McDaniel's hands on the following drive. Trinity recovered at the Carroll 31, and three plays later, Keihn scored again.
The Dragons chewed more clock and clawed back down into the redzone. First-and-goal from the Trinity seven.
McDaniel was given the ball twice, but could only gain a yard. Bowers, who had found success with fake handoffs throughout the night, then tried to do it himself. But Trinity's Isaiah Munoz read the fake and stopped Bowers short. Carroll settled for three.
Trinity's final drive saw Keihn working in tandem with RB Simeon Elsworth. The Trojans marched across midfield to the Carroll 23, where Larranaga kept one himself to convert on fourth down. He scored the tying touchdown on another keeper at the one. The PAT gave Trinity its first lead of the game.
With only 2:40 remaining, Bowers had to pass.
Complete to Cade Bell, 24 yards, first down.
Complete to Hudson Shrum, 10 yards, first down.
Then Bowers took a deep shot. It was a disaster.
Not only did he overthrow the ball, but also floated it – floated it right into the hands of Trinity's Nigel Blount. Ballgame.
Trinity's fans rushed the field like the Trojans had won a state title. It felt like the first time Carroll and Trinity met in the 2006 playoffs.
Except this time, Trinity won... and the crowd was a little smaller.
Let's do it again next year, shall we?
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