Quiet First Half Costs Trojans in Loss to No. 14 Saints
UPLAND, Ind. – Taylor played host to No. 14 Saint Francis (IL) on Saturday, falling in an early 14-0 deficit in the eventual 24-7 defeat on its home turf.
Taylor played well defensively against the highly touted USF (4-0) ground game, holding the NAIA’s tenth-rank rushing offense to nearly half of its season average with just 115 yards on the ground. The Saints countered with 264 yards through the air however, and held TU to just 34 total yards of offense over the game’s first 30 minutes of action to open a 14-0 advantage.
TU found its rhythm a bit in the second half, opening the third with a quick defensive stop and then moving the ball 48 yards on its ensuing drive to get to the USF one-yard line. The Saint Francis defense held strong however, turning away a pair of goal-line carries to keep Taylor off the board.
The Trojan defense got the ball right back however, forcing a turnover on downs and finally breaking through two plays later on a two-yard rush from Ja Thomas. The Thomas touchdown was only the third touchdown allowed this season by USF’s NAIA-leading scoring defense, and the first rushing touchdown against the Saints in four contests.
The two sides traded field goal tries on the next two possessions, with USF connecting from 32 yards out and TU missing just right from 42 yards away as the gap moved to 17-7.
Saint Francis put the game away with a 75-yard touchdown drive on its next touch to cap the scoring at 24-7.
Taylor rebounded from its slow offensive start to pick up 169 yards in the second half and picked up 157 yards on the ground for its fifth-straight game of at least 150 rushing yards to start the year.
Thomas was the offensive bright spot for TU, taking 13 carries for 62 yards and the lone touchdown of the day for the Trojans.
Aven Jones and Jacob Hockett anchored the strongest defensive performance of the season for Taylor. Jones piled up 10 solo stops and ended with 12 total tackles, while Hockett posted 11 hits and forced a pair of fumbles.
Reese Pinckney led a Taylor secondary that registered six pass breakups with a team-leading three of his ow, and Ja Pryor recorded the lone sack of the contest for the Trojans to go with five tackles.
Taylor (1-4, 0-1 MSFA) will take a week off, before returning to action against No. 4 Indiana Wesleyan (4-0, 1-0 MSFA) in a 6:00 pm clash inside Turner Stadium on October 7.