Kaleb Killian led his team to victory by scoring five touchdowns on the ground, and Jacory Jordan threw for two more as the Trinity Christian Academy Conquerors poured on the offense in avenging the team that knocked them out early a year ago. The Conquerors scored early and often on route to a 56-33 win over the Celtics of Ocala’s Trinity Catholic High School in the Class 3A state semifinal.
Killian scored at least one touchdown in each quarter: one in the first and second quarters, two in the third, and one more in the fourth. His scores came on runs of 1, 10, 40, 42, and 13 yards, respectively. The offensive line opened holes for him all night long, and Killian burst through them and used both power and speed to put up a career game.
Killian's first touchdown gave the Conquerors an early 7-0 lead with 5:29 left in the first quarter and capped a 9-play, 91-yard drive after the defense forced Trinity Catholic to punt after only four plays on the game-opening drive.
The Conquerors added a second first-quarter touchdown on an 8-yard pass from Jordan to Marcus Burke to cap a 52-yard drive with only 56 seconds left on the clock.
The Celtics answered early in the second period. They drove 76 yards on 12 plays in 5:39, and star running back Jamarian Samuel picked up 21 of those yards and scored on a 7-yard run to put his team on the board. TCA’s Corey Coley, though, blocked the extra-point attempt to keep the score 14-6. It was Coley's third block of the season.
The play of the night came two plays later. After TCA got nothing on first down at the 20, Jordan found L.J. Kelly at the 50. Kelly made the catch, slipped, regained his footing, and outran two defenders. Along the way, one man appeared to trip up Kelly up near the 10, but Kelly again kept himself upright and made it into the end zone with ease.
This time, though, it was Caden Morrell who stopped the P.A.T when he intercepted the pass on the two-point attempt. Only FHSAA rules prevented Morrell from returning the ball the length of the field for two points. Coley would also intercept a pass in the fourth quarter.
With the help of Caleb Stevenson’s kick, Killian made it 28-12 when he followed Jordan’s 29-yard keeper to the 10 with another rushing touchdown on 1st and Goal. Trinity Catholic answered with Samuel’s 3-yard power run for the score.
Samuel was not finished. He outran the defense for a 39-yard dash and a score that kept the Celtics close at 28-19 after TCHS’s first successful P.A.T.
The Conquerors ran away – literally – from that point. Killian then notched his 40-yarder from the Wildcat formation and 42-yarder from a traditional handoff to put the game -- seemingly -- out of reach at 42-19.
To their credit, the Celtics did not waiver. They scored twice in the fourth quarter on drives of 68 and 80 yards. Quarterback Cole Gonzales hit T.J. Snowden from 9 yards out with 6:06 left in the game and later – against the Conquerors’ defensive reserves – connected with Omarea James on a nifty 22-yard loft into the end zone with 15 seconds left to play. That was the final score of the night.
The Conquerors answered that first Trinity Catholic score with two more: Kilian’s fifth and final TD run of 13 yards and Darnell Rogers’s powerful 27-yard burst up the middle. The freshman broke four potential tackles and broke free for the score, the final touchdown for Trinity Christian. At that point the Conquerors were celebrating the win and a trip to the state championship game.
Killian amassed 190 yards and 5 touchdowns on only 17 carries for an average of 10.6 yards per carry. Jordan had two big runs to help himself to 109 yards on the ground in addition to throwing for 222 yards more and 2 touchdowns on an incredible 14-for-17 (82%) performance and a QB rating of 158.0, just 0.3 from a perfect rating.
Burke caught 9 passes for 107 yards and a score, and Kelly totaled 83 yards and a touchdown on 2 receptions. Stevenson was a perfect 8 for 8 in extra points.
Samuel had 149 yards rushing and 3 TD’s for Trinity Catholic, and Snowden totaled 72 yards on 6 carries. Gonzales threw for 160 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 INT (Coley) on an 11-for-20 performance.
The Conquerors (12-1) will battle the Lions of Hollywood’s Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory School (8-1), the defending champions from 2019 for the FHSAA Class 3A State Championship on Wednesday, December 16. The game is slated for Doak Campbell Stadium, the home of the Florida State University Seminoles, in Tallahassee. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST.
With a win, the Conquerors and head coach Verlon Dorminey will earn their eighth state title and the fifth as members of Class 3A. The Conquerors won four straight titles from 2013-2016 and three previously (2003, 2004, 2010) as members of Florida's Class 1A.
The Lions will try to earn their fourth consecutive 3A title and sixth overall. They won titles in 2003, 2005, 2017, 2018, and 2019, and they captured a national championship in 2018.
PHOTOS: Trinity Christian Academy Football on Facebook
STATS: Larry Withers, TCA Statistician