The Ell-Saline football squad suffered its first defeat of the season Friday night, as the Cardinals dropped a hard-fought, 8-6 loss to the Trinity Celtics in Hutchinson.
Coming into the matchup, neither first-team defense had surrendered a score through the first two games of the season, with Ell-Saline having outscored its first two opponents 96-13. Trinity entered the contest having outscored its first two opponents 64-0. Both defenses held serve throughout the night, with each team limited to just one touchdown.
With 10:31 to play in the second quarter, Trinity senior wide receiver Issac Miller took a handoff from senior quarterback Kaleb Hammeke, scoring on an end around off the left edge for a five-yard touchdown scamper. On the ensuing play, Hammeke faked a handoff, drawing a bite from the Ell-Saline defense, opening up a big hole up the middle for the two-point conversion run, giving the Celtics an 8-0 advantage.
The Ell-Saline offense, held to just 83 total first half yards, finally got things rolling in the fourth quarter.
With 7:20 remaining, senior quarterback Nick Davenport connected with sophomore wide receiver Treyton Peterson on an 86-yard bomb down the near sideline, pulling the Cardinals within two. On the following two-point conversion attempt, Davenport’s pass grazed off the fingertips of junior tight end Caleb Hammonds, falling incomplete.
After forcing a late stop, the Ell-Saline offense had one final opportunity to give the Cardinals a come-from-behind win.
Following a 41-yard pass completion from Davenport to Hammonds, Ell-Saline found itself inside the Trinity 35-yard line, but the Celtic defense came up big from there, sacking Davenport twice, including an all important takedown on 4th and 14, forcing a turnover on downs. With Ell-Saline out of time outs, Hammeke finished off the night with three consecutive kneeldowns, giving Trinity the 8-6 win on Homecoming Night in Hutchinson.
Davenport finished the night 7-for-15 through the air for 159 yards, with one touchdown and one interception – the Ell-Saline signal caller’s first of the season.
Peterson led the receiving corps, hauling in two grabs for 94 yards.
On the ground, Ell-Saline ran it 28 times for 81 yards, with Davenport leading the way with a season-high 14 carries for 44 yards.
Ell-Saline (2-1) moves on to face off with Heart of America League rival Sedgwick next Friday, while Trinity (3-0) begins district play in Week 4, traveling to Conway Springs.